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bertus weyers

Attack and release setting on Spitfire BBC SO

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Good day all,

I recently got hold of this (Free) version from Spitfire and I must say it's worth it in every sense of the word. It sounds amazing, so much so that I deleted most of the other "free" VST's that I was using.

The only problem I've encountered so far is that it's not easy to adjust the attack and release time. I asked their helpdesk for advice and this is the answer I received from them:

'On the interface is a control called Dynamics. This is mapped to modulation automation in your DAW, or your controller mod wheel. Fade this up and down to gain further realism. At the start of the notes, push this up, and at the end fade it down. Further, different velocities on legatos create different transitions. If you play a note above Velocity 19, you will trigger a more aggressive change. Further over lapping the notes will provide a portamento transition at low velocities. Combing these will give you greater realism than an adsr. '

The problem is my controller doesn't have a mod wheel (old model Casio). But then also, why adjust the dynamics manually, while it's much easier done with ADSR? There the settings are done once, no need to redo after every chord or note. 

I have tried using the Sonitus delay in Cakewalk to achieve this which works in a sense, The problem is that there is an 'echo' at the end of the chord that I don't know how to rectify. This may work for other music genres but not for me.

Any advice on what to do?


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Their advice wasn't helpful to you because they're talking about dynamics and you're talking about envelopes. While related, they are not equivalent.

Their advice was still good, though. Serious orchestrators use the modwheel and hand-drawn CC envelopes A LOT. It's a practice you'll definitely want to adopt. And in your specific situation, perhaps your only option.

Full-featured libraries typically offer several features for adjusting attack times. There may be a global AR envelope, plus an automatic attack adjustment based on velocity. They'll also have multiple articulations that affect attack. Strings aren't synthesizers. How a violinist positions the bow, how they initiate contact with the bow, whether they strike the strings with the bow - all affect attack but aren't just about amplitude modulation. This is the difference between an expensive string library and a free one.

That said, there are ways to modify the envelope of any instrument. Fast-attack lookahead compressors, gates with envelope controls, transient designers - these are all effects that can modify the attack time. Just don't expect it to sound like a real orchestra. For that, you'll need CC modulation, which even a freebie should support, especially one from Spitfire (my all-time favorite library vendor).

Without a modwheel, you'll have to draw in the modulation in the PRV. Sounds like a bother, but it's actually my preferred method 50% of the time. It's more precise, I don't have to think about it while performing the part, and I can tweak it later in the context of a full mix. The good news is it's not difficult, just time-consuming. With practice, you can get natural-sounding strings very quickly.

I'd encourage you to watch Christian Henson's tutorials. Christian is one of Spitfire's founders, and a good explainer.



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