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Posts posted by Amicus717

  1. 3 hours ago, mdiemer said:

    Thank you Jerry for chiming in on this. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever attain the level of expertise you and others have. I am only interested in making modest improvements in my music, so that people will be able to get it. Maybe the Jedi Masters, as someone else here put it, will not be able to listen as it doesn't come up to their standards, and for that I apologize.  I don't have the energy or time (not to mention the ability to sit in a chair for hours; pain level limits that), to produce perfect mockups. Though I admire and envy those who do. 

    I have made some modest improvements, mostly by realizing that in manually panning my string libraries, I am losing much of the signal. I have also moved the basses in more to where they are more resonant. The reason I was panning everything is that I use different libraries, and some of them have widely varying seating plans. But I have hit upon a scheme that allows me to use them mostly in their native positions, with the exception of the pizz. basses, as they are from the Vienna Special Edition library, which is not pre-panned. So they have to panned. but Vienna has power panning, where you can pan without losing signal. 

    We'll see how it goes. While music comes naturally to me, as to all here, the other stuff does not. I can be a real dufus when it comes to the technical side of things. And I'm not getting any younger. any improvements from here on out are going to be incremental.

    Addendum: re: my speaker setup, they are not computer speakers, but a three-way system with M-Audio BX5 monitors and a Mackie sub. I meant "computer speakers" in the sense that thye are connected to my computer. although the way my music sounds now, I can understand why someone would think they are just computer speakers. I promise, it is going to get better. But keep in mind, better is a relative term.

    Mike, I am wondering if the subwoofer might be a bit of overkill in your setup -- at least in regards to mixing? Maybe others wiser than I (and that would be a lot of people) can correct me on this, but my understanding has always been that for small project studios like mine -- where small room size creates built in bass problems right from the start -- subwoofers tend to cause more problems than they are worth. Have you ever tried doing your final mixes on just the monitors without the sub? I used to use BX5 monitors (they were my previous set, in fact), and they are perfectly decent small monitors. Just a thought...


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  2. 23 hours ago, mdiemer said:

    Wow, thank you very much, Rob, that was really informative. I would love to have my mixes sound as good as yours. sometimes I wonder if the style I compose in has something to do with it. I don't have much dynamic variation in my music. I tend to write stuff that's on the quieter side. Or maybe my samples aren't good enough. 

    Anyway, I will keep re-reading your advice, there's a lot there. I've already read it three times, and again I really appreciate your taking the time to help me out here.

    Happy to help out in any way, Mike! I've been the beneficiary of a lot of help in this forum, also. One dude you may want to reach out to is Tapsa. He's been very helpful and generous with his time, and as a legit pro, he knows what he's doing. He's offered me some great help and encouragement.

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  3. 18 hours ago, mdiemer said:

    Thanks Joe. I was planning on posting it here and another place on Easter, for the benefit of those who celebrate the holiday but couldn't get to church, but when I heard it on my other sound systems, I knew I had more work to do.

    I think Three Easter Scenes are very nicely composed, Mike. I really like them. The one thing that first struck me when I was listening through, was that they might benefit from more dynamics, both in the general music and also in the playing of the specific lines. For example, the string lines in the opening few mins came across as sort of dynamically flat and kind of stiff. I also personally prefer the panning to be not quite so far left and right. This particular recording sounds pretty hard panned in my headphones, and I find that kind of artificial and actually a bit hard to listen to -- when the violins are panned too far left, for instance, it always makes me feel like something is missing on the right side that I should be hearing but can't. It actually creates a sense of tension and makes me feel like I'm being prevented from hearing the whole recording. Sort of. When the grand piano took over at the 3:05 mark, it filled the sound field very nicely and to my ears made the whole thing easier to listen to. 

    But nonetheless, I found the music very intriguing and held my interest all the way through. I liked it a lot.

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  4. 23 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

    It might be worth watching some of the Spitfire videos, especially the ones about the BBC SO VSTi - I've found those interesting

    Totally, those videos are great. Also, Michael Patti's videos over at Cinesamples, are also very good. The Cinesamples folks have some tutorials that offer some nice insight into working with MIDI and mixing samples.


    22 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

    Rob (Amicus) - your stuff is amazing! Going to be listening to a lot of these!

    You are far too kind, and thanks :) I worked very hard on those, and I was happy how they turned out.


    It would be proper to mention in this thread that Tapsa Kuusniemi, one of our merry band here at the Cakewalk forum, has been extremely helpful with this orchestral stuff. He's a pro, knows his s#@*, and has made a ton of really great suggestions and pointers in regards to my music. In particular, he often takes me to task for not having enough dynamics across my music (which I appreciate greatly), and his repeated reminders have really made me focus on that aspect of my composing and recording. I think that played a key role in helping me get my music and mixes up a notch in quality. 

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  5. Hi Michael,

    I totally know where you are coming from -- I do only orchestral music; I'm 100% midi; and over the years I have struggled to get decent mixes. 

    I figured I'd write up my own approach to recording my symphonic music. For what it's worth, over the past two years I have gotten results that I have generally been happy with, and thought maybe some elements of my approach might be useful. However, I am also an amateur with tons of things still left to learn, so take all this with a grain of salt, too. 

    For my stuff, I usually use only one reverb on the mix. I have found Nimbus to the absolute best reverb out there for classical/symphonic stuff. It is easily the most open and airy reverb in my arsenal, and to my ears gives the orchestra some really nice air but doesn't thicken the overall mix too much. I add Nimbus as a send, and give the majority of patches and sampler instances the same general settings -- to my ears it gives a unified sense of space if the instruments all run through the same reverb. I may vary the amount that gets sent to Nimbus from section to section, depending on what I'm writing, but it is never more than a few percentage points. FWIW, I believe Nimbus' smaller brother, PhoenixVerb is on sale for $10 over at the Deals forum -- which is an absurdly low price for a top flight, neutral and clear reverb, and I'd totally recommend you grab it and try it out. I have a ton of reverbs (I have something of a weakness for them), but the only one I fire up these days is Nimbus. I haven't touched the others in years. In my opinion, it is THE software reverb for Orchestral stuff. 

    I also put a lot of work into building my orchestral template, and I have deliberately selected instrument patches that inhabit similar sounding acoustic space (or can be made to do so, using various mic mixes). I've also spent hours fine-tuning the template so that each instrument in the entire symphonic assembly sits where I want it to across the acoustic landscape. 

    I use a really broad mix of libraries:

    1) Orchestral Strings: AlbionONE (sustains, tremolo, short articulations and pizz); 8Dio Anthology Strings' legato patches for dramatic lines; Sonokinetic's Modal Runs; Hollywood Strings Gold runs patches; Sonokinetic Da Capo's legato string patch (for really quiet passages, as I like the sound of their strings when the mod wheel is dialed really low); Palette's Trill patches; NI Symphony Series Ensemble Strings Harmonic patch

    2) Woodwinds: VSL solo woodwinds, all from the Synchronized Special Editions; Sonokinetic Ensemble Woodwinds Standard Edition

    3) Brass: VSL solo and ensemble brass, all from the Synchronized Special Editions; NI Symphony Series (for low brass)

    4) Percussion: NI Symphony Series Percussion (for snares, bass drum, some timpani, tamtams, suspended cymbals, mark tree); VSL Timpanis; Kontakt Library VSL Glockenspiel; Hollywood Percussion Gold (for orchestral chimes); EastWest Storm Drum 2; AlbionONE's Darwin Percussion Easter Island Hits; August Forester Grand Piano from Kontakt Library

    5) A various scattering of other libraries: Kontakt Library's VSL Harp, Lacrimosa Choir patches from 8Dio, Mercury Boys Choir Elements, Embertone Recorders, and a handful of Eduardo Taloronte's Era Libraries (Era II Vocal Codex, Dark Era percussion and flutes, some Forest Kingdom flutes, etc). 

    If I need to push an instrument back or bring it forward, I usually start with the microphone mix settings built into the library in question, or the reverb built in the sample engine/library. This last point applied mainly to the original VSL Special Edition libraries, which were quite dry and center panned, and needed Vienna Ensemble's built in reverb to push them back into the acoustic space, and Vienna Ensemble's mixer and stereo width slider to position them properly across the acoustic landscape. When VSL released the Synchronized versions of its Special Editions, the reverb and positioning of the default mix for those instruments worked a lot better right out of the box, and they fit into my template's acoustic space with minimal adjustment. 

    The only time I ever fire up a second reverb is for some of the Era patches, if I need to give them a particularly distant or washed-out sound (and for that I usually create a second reverb send with Valhalla's Shimmer). There were a few occasions where I tried using Wave's TrueVerb with it's early reflection room/space simulations, and would run various sections through it first in attempt to manipulate their positioning, but I never found it more effective than just whatever settings I could manipulate in the various libraries themselves. 

    As far as getting good mixes is concerned, I bought the best monitors I could afford (a pair of Adam F7), spend a LOT of time with them so I have a good sense of their sound and how it translates, and when in doubt I tend to trust the ears of the engineers who made the samples. I rarely do much beyond the slight cutting of frequency here and there -- usually in attempt to clear out some mud and honk from the mix. I almost never add anything via EQ, and I usually do minimal compression unless I have a specific solo instrument that really needs to cut through the mix. And before I compress it, I usually try to clear space for the solo instrument by adjusting the orchestration first. 

    When I have a final mix from Cubase (my main DAW for midi work), I usually take the exported track and bring it into Cakewalk and use ProChannel to master it (which for me usually means giving it a bit of boost using ProChannel's Concrete Limiter, and adding ProChannel's Tape Emulation and/or Console Emulation to give it some analog mojo). 

    I have no idea if the above things are right or wrong, or outright heresy, but right now I get results I am generally happy with. I've linked to two tracks below, both of which were built using the exact template setup listed above. For both, there is only one instance of Nimbus reverb, very limited EQ, and Cakewalk's ProChannel Concrete Limiter and Tape Emulator over the final mix - basically just four plugins across two DAWs, and absolutely nothing else. To EQ these tracks, I used IK Multimedia's White Channel on the "Cut Boominess" setting, and dialed back the amount it was actually cutting by a fair margin. I find it effectively takes just a bit of thickness and smear out of the low end, and to my ears that seems to go a long way to clearing up the whole mix without gutting the bass.

    I find these particular mixes sound great on my monitors, very good on my iPhone earbuds and my bluetooth headphones, acceptable in my car (nothing sounds particularly good in my car, frankly, so its a good test), and the folks I've sent it to have never made a negative comment about the mix quality, so I assume it sounds decent enough on their systems.  

    As I mentioned, I do not presume to have all (or any) answers to the various issues that crop up for us folks doing symphonic music on computer. But what I outlined above has worked for me, and I figured I'd offer it up as some potential ideas that may work for you as well.



    I hope some of this helps, or at least inspires some different approaches. But for what it's worth, I totally get how you feel, and I've ranted a bit myself on this topic. 

    Good luck! And if you want to connect about this stuff -- send me tracks to listen to, bounce ideas back and forth, etc -- please let me know. We orchestral folks need to stick together :)



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  6. Hi Jerry, I listened to the First Movement (I will listen to the others when I get the chance this weekend), and I really liked it. The mix of synths and traditional instruments really worked for me. The movement held my interest all the way through, and was a pleasure to listen to. I look forward to listening to the rest of it.



  7. 2 hours ago, arznable said:

    Really helpful preliminary overview, thanks.  I do notice people complained the CineBrass legato quite a bit.  Anyway, await your results for tonight's experiment...

    So, for what it's worth: I like these libraries a lot -- they really suit my working style and I like their sound. The strings are not as smooth or pristine sounding as AlbionONE's strings, which are my current mainstays. CineStrings is raspier and more fulsome, with something of  in-your-face sound, and sits pretty wide on the soundstage. There is also a fair amount of MGM's ambiance baked into the default mix, and the effect is very intense and cinematic. The different mic positions change things a lot, although I haven't experimented with all of them yet. But I can say the dry, close mics are both pretty damn close and pretty damn dry. As for their ability to blend with other stuff, so far they seem fine. I've tried my VSL woodwinds with them, and with some fine tuning I think it will work great.

    I also played around with the Trumpet Ensemble Articulations patch, and today I had an easier time dealing with the legato. It sounds pretty nice. I like that all their instruments were recorded in their proper place on the soundstage, which puts all the brass instruments exactly where I want them to be right out of the box (using the default mix). The default mix uses both some EQ and Reverb within Kontakt, but I disable the reverb and use my own. 

    Cinesamples offers a couple of different ways to use these libraries in terms of mapping -- one based on velocity and pedal, and the other based on keyswitches. I find the keyswitch mappings are more suited to how I like to work. 

    So, while it's only been a day, I'm quite glad I got these. But as always, YMMV.  

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  8. I'm no pro -- just a pretty motivated hobbyist. But Cubase is my primary DAW.

    I still use Cakewalk on a regular basis because I much prefer it for editing audio and I really like Pro Channel and its components. So most of my final mixes and any mastering I do is in Cakewalk.

    But for straight-up MIDI work, Cubase has the best tool set I've ever used. 

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  9. Hi Anthony,

    I really liked this a lot. Some great passages in it, and I enjoyed the various textures and orchestral arrangements you used. I do symphonic stuff, myself, so this kind of music really appeals to me and it's always great when some of it pops up in the Songs forum. 

    Very curious to know what libraries you used (especially as I got to this post via the CineSamples post currently in the Deals forum). You mentioned CineBrass. What other libraries? The strings sound nice, as does the percussion. 

    I always like getting feedback (both positive and constructive) from folks when I post stuff, so here are my impression and thoughts. Like you, I'm also trying hard to get better at orchestral arrangements, and so a) I know what you're experiencing, and b) I still have tons to learn and please take all this with a grain of salt 😀...

    1) The overall mix sounds nice, although I did think that some of the woodwind instruments don't quite sit in the same acoustic space as the strings and percussion (in particular, that was my genuine sense of things at the 0.55 second mark). 

    2) 1:50 mark - I really like the arrangement here. The string ostinatos under the melody work really well, although I'd wonder if they would be better with a bit more punch and energy. Also, the woodwind that appears around 2:00 sounds very much out of place, acoustically. It sounds like it's in another room being recorded separately. Same with other woodwinds through to the 3:20 mark. The arrangement in general works, I think, but the woodwinds sit way out front and seem acoustically out of place, and it is distracting. 

    3) The brass sounds really far back in the mix, especially compared to the woodwinds - would love to hear this with a bit more power from the horns, and maybe brighten it up with a bit more trumpet.

    4) I think it would be nice to have a more definitive thematic development to the music. Right now, there is some really lovely melodic lines and the overall feel and vibe is cinematic and enchanting, but it struck me as a bit shapeless and it sort of wandered to the end. A bit more structure and focused development might add something to the piece. 

    5) I quite liked the ending -- pull the sounds out and the two solo strings take over, leading to the choir floating in. Nice! I did think that the violins sort of appeared out of nowhere, and some sort of linkage to the previous section might really add something. Maybe have the solo violins appear earlier in the piece, even for a moment, so their reappearance at the end will not be quite so unexpected. Or possibly have them play through the final section and carry on through the ending without as pronounced a break - a more organic transition. I also thought the solo violin samples suffered the same issue as the woodwinds -- they did not sound like two players from the string section going solo, but rather like two violins in a totally different acoustic space than the rest of the orchestra. 

    Those are my impressions based on three listens to your track, and as mentioned please take them with a grain of salt -- I'm working from the same place as you, in that regard. But overall, I really enjoyed this piece a lot. Really nice stuff, with tons of potential.




  10. I finally gave in and picked this package up -- I've been eyeing the Cinesamples stuff for a while and couldn't resist the price for all these.

    I only got them installed last night, so this is a really preliminary overview, but for the most part the libraries sound quite good.

    I've come across some things I like: CineBrass Sonore is outstanding from top to bottom, CineHarps is very, very nice and perfectly fills a gap in my template.

    And I've come across some things I don't like: I'm not sure about the legato for the Ensemble Trumpets in CineBrass Core -- it's kind of laggy and the transitions are a bit punchy, although I'm still fiddling with the settings and getting a feel for the libraries overall. The adaptive legato in these libraries has a number of settings and adjustments that can be made, so I would re-emphasize that all this is very preliminary. The CineWinds are nice -- in particular, I love the solo bassoon sound, and there are two quite different (and nice sounding) oboes to play with.  I literally got the CineStrings installed at 1:00am last night and auditioned them for 5 minutes before going to bed, but they do sound great - although I did notice a lot of hissy ambiance on the legato violins patch. Dropping the volume helped a lot, but I have a long way to go before I get a real sense of the library and whether it will work for me. 

    Based on what I've experienced so far, though, at the above price this deal is a real win. I haven't yet tried to mix these with my other template mainstays -- that will be tonight's experiment -- but I think it should work pretty well. There are lots of mic options in these libraries, and they come with a decent set of mix presets for various occasions and needs. Example: CineHarps has mic mixes called: "Tim's Mix", "Dry and Close", "Orch Left", "Orch Right", etc and they all sound good, and quite different, and I'll be likely adding CineHarps to my template using the "Orch Left" mix (which is where I usually like to position the harp in the orchestral landscape). 

    Arznable: in regards to the CinePerc, I haven't come across any problem samples yet, although it's a mammoth library with a ton of instruments (over 90 gigs of samples) so I've had no time to really find out. I do like what I hear so far, however. I've already decided to add some of it's patches to my template. 

    One thing I did notice about all these -- they are heavier on memory usage than some of my other libraries. So they'll test my hardware a bit more, I predict. I have an Ensemble Pro network going, so I may farm these out to one of my satellite machines and see how it handles them. 

    As I said above, this is only a first impression based on two hours of noodling around with the fresh installs, so take it all with a grain of salt. And with libraries like this, what works for me may not work for you anyway. But so far, I like what my $800 cdn got me. 

  11. 11 minutes ago, cclarry said:

    If someone does Orchestral Composing or Movie Scoring, and can justify
    this purchase, that 75% off is quite the deal.

    Yeah it is. Those Core packages have all the fundamental articulations, including legatos -- both for sections and solo instruments -- and the various other bits and pieces make a really complete set of tools. 

  12. Full disclosure: I work in advertising, so I'm getting an inside view of how the current pandemic situation is affecting various sectors and industries. It's a genuinely terrifying time, and a lot of money is going to be lost -- which doesn't just affect the corporate bottom line, but also the lives of the employees who depend on those industries for their income. In the case of the marketing opportunities that crop up in a time of crises, it's a very difficult set of decisions that the business world in general will have to confront, and some really choppy waters to navigate: they are watching their markets collapse (or drastically change as people transition to working from home and alter their shopping and buying patterns); they are watching their earning projections and marketing plans become basically meaningless overnight, and with so much chaos they have no real idea what tomorrow or next week will hold; and they are trying very hard to minimize the impact this will have on their employees and customers. And so they are trying to find what positive side they can to this crises. I personally have no problem if a company tries to flow with the times and get through this with minimal damage, as long as what they do isn't exploitative. And by exploitative, I mean things like price gouging, tasteless advertising that makes light of the crises, product or service offerings that have too many strings attached or are offered as a generous bonus for the times but in reality are merely old deals in new clothing, etc. Folks like Fluffy Audio giving away things for free and/or redirecting money to a worthy cause is great, and they set a wonderful example and deserve credit for it. But Folks like Steinberg offering fully functional versions of their products for two months free, with no strings attached, doesn't bother me either. I believe their normal demo time is 30 days? They don't have to do anything at all, and if they can give folks something to use for a little while and NOT lose money in the process, I have no issue with that. Part of their reasoning, I'm sure, is they want to give folks exposure to their products -- you use Dorico Elements for two months, and love it so much you decide to pay for it. Good for you, great for them. That doesn't bother me, either. They are not forcing anyone to do anything, and selling their products is their business and the only reason they exist, and in the end everybody gets something. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as they are not exploiting anyone or anything to achieve it.

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  13. Cinesamples just announced they are going to extend the Choir sale through April 1st (original end date was today, I believe).

    FWIW, I finally caved and bought a copy of "Voices of War: Men of the North" over the weekend, and spent some time messing around with it. Sounds really good, and I found it to be a very nice companion to Dark Era's voice stuff, and the Era Vocal Codex stuff -- all of which are libraries I use a lot.  

    It's obviously got a really specific sound and intended use, so it's not for everyone, and you get exactly what it says and nothing more (Michael Patti's video walk-thru covers it pretty thoroughly). But it is totally built for the kind of stuff I like to do, and $119 is a pretty good deal...I'm pretty happy with it.



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  14. "Working from home means more studio time! To keep the vibes colorful, here's Analog Dreams on us."

    From the email: "It’s a challenging time for music, but we’re all in this together. That’s why we’re giving away ANALOG DREAMS free until the end of March – wander through the technicolor world of vintage tones with one of our favorite Play Series instruments. Make the most of the extra time inside, and keep making amazing music – we look forward to hearing what you do with it."

    Site is sloooow, right now: https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/play-series/analog-dreams/

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  15. I was somewhat critical of their main sketchpad library in a previous thread, but credit where due: the update they released a couple weeks ago (which I had not had a chance to install previously) helped a bit. Seemed to fix the problem with the Glockenspiel in particular. 

    I've heard good things about both melodics and the runs library. They are available individually, at $79 each, which seems a decent price. I don't recall exactly, but I think I pad $99 for sketchpad (or somewhere in that range) and while there are things I'd like to see improved, I don't regret the purchase. $79 for Melodics is tempting. 


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  16. I bought a used original Babyface for $300 about 3 years ago, and it has been -- hands down -- the absolute best interface I have ever used. Clean sounding, solidly built, rock solid drivers that are still supported and updated, great latency and designed to last.

    RME pretty much locked me up as a permanent customer going forward. They're the best, in my books.


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