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Larry Shelby

APD Lightning Deal # 8

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I wrote about this already in VI: Control, but for me, Kirk Hunter's Virtuoso Ensembles is one of the very best deals to come out of this Black Friday season, right up there with the $2.99 SONiVOX singles. Atsia Percussion for $2.99?  Insane. 

It usually sells for a lot of money in Hunter's store and then every now and then it is discounted for about $80. This has happened a few times, and that's what I paid for it. In the current APD deal it is $29.99, which I believe is the lowest ever.  The lowest by a lot.

Of course, back when I bought it, it was a Kontakt Player instrument and now it needs Full Kontakt.


For me, it may be the best "Sketching Library" out there. The gimmick is it allows you to place four orchestral instruments on the keyboard--like all the strings or brass or woods. So that is fun, but it also comes with multis that combine strings and brass, etc. On top of that, it has a piano, choir, and a pretty decent junior percussion section. And it doesn't stint on the articulations either. You can see the specs here:
https://www.kirkhunterstudios.com/products/virtuoso-ensembles-kontakt-retail/


And it sounds pretty damned good.

It's very light, perfect for a laptop. It doesn't get mentioned often when people talk about sketching libraries, but the fact is you can sketch a lot better with this than you can with others, and I like some of the sounds enough to have used them in pieces too.

This Reuben video shows what I'm talking about.  This is a LOT for $29.99, even if orchestral isn't your thing. 

 

Edited by Reid Rosefelt
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@Reid Rosefelt Is it just a sketching library or is it good enough to replace something like Session Strings Pro as a "background orchestra"? How does this compare to Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra (which I have) or to The Orchestra (the basic one, which I've been thinking about)?

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I just grabbed this, because I like having light, easy-to-run sketching tools on my laptop -- and for $29, well why not? I spend more on coffee during a regular work week.

I've had Virtuoso for about an hour, and played through the various patches, so this is a really preliminary impression.  I can say that Virtuoso is pretty much exactly as Reid described: efficient and fully-featured library for sketchpad work, and sounds very decent for its type. I don't find it hugely realistic, and I suspect it will create sketches that are going to be a bit synthy to my ears. But they will be detailed and realistic enough to test ideas, and give a good sense how an orchestral arrangement will sound when rendered on higher-end stuff.  And that is going to be very handy. 

It's got the usual Kirk Hunter quirkiness about the interface and performance options, but it's easy to get a grasp on how it all works, the controls are simple and it has way more articulations and variations than I would have expected given the size of the library.  

Some of the sounds are surprisingly decent -- the brass and string section legatos are better than I expected, the kettle drums patch is actually really good, and there are some nice rolls and hits.

I don't like the piano at all; some of the the timpani samples have a rather ugly ringing to them; and the brass and string shorts are less then stellar.  I also haven't come across a harp patch, which is a shame. 

The woodwinds are perfectly decent, although they are all solo instruments rather than sections. There's a full set of percussion, including totally useable cymbals and snares. 

The overall sound is kind of hazy and ambient, and I very much doubt any of these patches will end up in my main template or in any of my finished productions.

But's that not why I bought it. I think Virtuoso will be a really great sketch tool, and I think it might even work better in that capacity than the libraries I am currently using for that purpose, including Da Capo, Symphony Series Essentials, and Red Room Palette. I like those other libraries, and they will remain in use, but Virtuoso seems like it will give me a lot more options in a much smaller footprint that will run easily on my laptop. 

I'd have never paid $299 for this, frankly. But $29.99 is totally worth it, if you need this kind of tool. 

Edited by Amicus717
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4 hours ago, Pseudopop said:

@Reid Rosefelt Is it just a sketching library or is it good enough to replace something like Session Strings Pro as a "background orchestra"? How does this compare to Amadeus Symphonic Orchestra (which I have) or to The Orchestra (the basic one, which I've been thinking about)?

IMO,  it's better sounding than Session Strings Pro--Hunter is known for his strings.  Second you get all these other instruments and 50 multis.  For me, who isn't trained, and don't really understand things like the note ranges of instruments, it is an amazing gift for sketching.  It's more than sketching, it helps me figure out how to orchestrate  a piece by playing it.  

On the other hand, Session Strings Pro is under-rated in terms of sound and has some really fun auto-play features.   For a background strings it has some features like the new ujam STRIIIINGS, although not as many of them.    It's made to be easy for people who don't know about strings.

Amadeus is in a field by itself. It gives you the most instruments at the lowest price.  Lots of libraries that costs many hundreds more don't give you the instruments there.  But there are some snobby types who don't like the sound.  It's a matter of taste, Cory Pelizzari has done a great video on it.  I have often used it in tracks.   The interface was programmed by Tracy Collins of Indiginus, so it is one of the best orchestral interfaces outside of Cinematic Studio Strings.  And finally it has a one-person-orchestra feature similar to the Indiginus's legendary Solid State Symphony, which is a gas to play.   Solid State Symphony is still $59 and this is basically the same thing made by the same guy, and the whole Amadeus is now $99!  If you are a serious composer who knows all the instruments but only has $99, it is the only choice IMO.

The Orchestra has these arps.  This makes it very fun and  inspiring.  The one thing I would caution you is that the arps lean mostly to the "epic" type styles.  it's a decent orchestra, but a lot of stuff is missing compared to something like Amadeus. But they keep adding to it, with strings and brass, and I'm sure, Woodwinds. But there are still a lot of solo instruments missing. 

Amadeus is amazing in terms of what it includes--it will have 2 or 3 different examples of a solo instrument, then a small ensemble of 3 and then a large ensemble.  And it is very consistent.  If it exists in an orchestra, then Amadeus has it, with a lot of articulations.  None of the other major "sketching" libraries can say the same.

I'm thinking about making a video about "one-person Orchestra" libraries.  That would be fun to do.

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