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Orchestral Instrument Plugins?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Rich_S, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    My 16 y.o. daughter is just getting started in composing and recording music. She's into fantasy movies, anime, video games, so the stuff she's composing is in that vein. No Telecasters for her, it's all piano and orchestral stuff.

    I set her up with reaper, because that's what I've been using and I know a little about it (whereas I know nothing about other recording software). Sadly, my experience with reaper has involved purely audio files, no "in the box" MIDI instruments.

    She's been using some DSK orchestral plugins, but Reaper keeps crashing in playback and I've heard some anecdotal reports that this specific DSK plugin crashes reaper a lot.

    Can anybody recommend some orchestral-type plugins that 1) are stable and 2) are not terribly expensive? She's taking this seriously and plans to compose and record a piece as her senior project next year, so I don't mind spending a little money on it, but only packages in the low hundreds are within the realm of possibility.
     

  2. raito

    raito Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    Madison, WI
    First off, get her this:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0393920658/?tag=tdpri-20

    Adler's The Study of Orchestration. Link is to the 4th edition. I have the 3rd. Excellent stuff.

    Then I'd find a good, free sampling VST that'll take wave files as samples and allow you to make an instrument out of a set of files.

    Then I'd get over to http://theremin.music.uiowa.edu/MIS.html, grab the files, make some instruments, and throw a little money towards LarryF's good cause.

    No idea for commercial solutions.
     

  3. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

    May 27, 2013
    California
    There's a few standalone apps out there for free.
    Some of them come as a bundle deal with a DAW.

    Have you searched Google for Free VST orch?
     

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  5. suthol

    suthol Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 15, 2010
    Sydney - Australia
    I've found I've had to put a limiter on some VSTi because they spike and then mute, Orchestral Companion is also very large and will lock most PCs up unless you've got a lot of CPU grunt and heaps of RAM.

    Within Reaper you can render/freeze & mute individual tracks which preserves the instrument and then you can unload the VSTs freeing up memory.
     

  6. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

    May 27, 2013
    California
    Do you mean that Reaper has some quirks to look out for?

    i know that a lot of people use it, but do they all have to
    work around it's limitations? If that's the case, maybe Reaper
    is not the way to go for a high school student?
     

  7. suthol

    suthol Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 15, 2010
    Sydney - Australia
    More a limitation of some free VSTi and Pcs.

    The B3 plugin I used on Brown Bottle had random spikes to +20 odd db which triggered auto mute so the limiter was the answer to a maiden's prayer.

    Likewise the freeze/mute facility meant I could do multiple strings tracks on the old laptop by only using the plugin one track at a time, no problems at all when using the big iron.

    Deficiency/limitation, not really I'd call it a benefit because it enabled the old laptop to live on
     

  8. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 17, 2003
    Charlotte NC
    Reaper is a fine program but many users believe it is a total package like a full featured DAW. It is not and it is not intended to be or packaged to be.

    My take, if your daughter is serious and is going to grow in the production of music , step her up to a high quality DAW which is ALL inclusive, including instrumentation and powerful midi editing.

    I'm not saying go to Pro Tools 12 but I am saying go to something equivalent. Give her the tools for what she is doing, which by the way is awesome !

    Music composers should spend their time composing not trying to find work around's for the DAW so they can get to the composing.

    Studio's and Engineers, same thing.

    Sure , agreed, the initial price is going to be much higher, but it's a ONE time investment and the rewards that follow are priceless. She will be working with basically the same platforms of every major composer ( that use a DAW) around the world.
     
    24 track likes this.

  9. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

    May 27, 2013
    California
    I totally agree with the aforementioned statement.
     
    24 track likes this.

  10. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    I'm not sure I understand how Reaper differs from "a total package like a full featured DAW". I get that Reaper is very much built in the shareware mold and is meant to be customized and expanded upon by the users. It seems to me to be a serviceable DAW with the one drawback that it is lacking in VSTi instruments.

    However, if I spend a few minutes browsing the DAW section of Sweetwater's catalog, I find the "big boys" have the same problem. They all have a beginner's package priced from free to a couple hundred bucks. Then there's a "serious" package that's $500 plus or minus a hundred, and finally a "pro" level version that's pushing or exceeding a grand. Details on what exactly the low-end versions include are thin, but I suspect that they are short on instruments. My kid needs a wide array of usable orchestral instruments, but she does not need audio perfection worthy of a John Williams soundtrack.

    So, is there a DAW out there that provides me that sort of Swiss Army knife array of features and instruments. I agree that it's better to spend time composing that troubleshooting (especially since I'm the one who ends up getting stuck with the troubleshooting part), but I'm afraid whatever DAW we choose will need to be augmented with more instruments, and we're right back into troubleshooting.

    So what's the difference? Really, I want to know - my ignorance is virtually boundless at this point.
     

  11. pete-strych

    pete-strych Tele-Holic

    940
    Jun 19, 2012
    I just built a studio after over a decade since I've had one. Now I'm totally digital. Besides producing, mastering, & my personal guitar recording projects, I've been recording ambient guitar soundscapes that would work in sci-Fi & other dark movie soundtracks. My latest interests involves film scoring & composing more orchestral pieces. With very little investment, you can create in Cubase Elements 9 which includes Halion Sonic SE 3. It's $99 or $69 with a student ID. Watch videos by Junkie XL who composes film scores currently. He is composing in Cubase & has lengthy detailed videos that are awesome to watch & learn from. Steinberg's Cubase ELEMENTS is a little stripped down from a their PRO version, but it had more than you need. I am not a big "midi" user, but my Novation LaunchKey mini & Cubase allow me to create what I need. Halion has string sections, brass, piano, etc. watch a couple videos, spend $99 bucks, & listen to the magic. I had no idea that Halion was included with Cubase until recently...mind blown. It has all I need for now.
     

  12. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    Update: Of course, when the kid told me her Reaper project was locking up, the first thing I did was "Save As..." so that I wouldn't mess up her composition while troubleshooting. After trying a bunch of things, including updating Reaper, I declared it fixed.

    Fast forward to this week, when the only description I get is "It still stops playing". So I write all the posts above, then tonight I commenced with more troubleshooting. To that end, I went to her with my USB hard drive in hand, saying I wanted a copy of her project so I could try it on MY computer. At that point she told me that my copy plays just fine, but her original freezes up. I suggested maybe she could save mine with a new name and then proceed from there. I'm starting to think this problem is more teenager-oriented than hardware or software. So I went down to the garage and put the final coat of flat black on my studio desk legs.

    I guess my next hurdle is getting the concept of frequent backups drilled into her head.

    But I'd still like answers to post #9.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    suthol likes this.

  13. Rich_S

    Rich_S Friend of Leo's

    Dec 29, 2006
    Potsdam, NY
    Thanks for the suggestions, P-S. I hadn't thought about a student discount. Elements for $99 sounds like a good deal, but then I noticed the Student Version of Artist is only $165 (half price, but you need to add their USB license dongle for $35).

    'Splain sumpin' to me. Cubase's specs for Elements say:
    • 3 virtual instruments and 16 VSTi slots to build textures inside the box
    • 1,045 included instrument sounds

    OTOH, the specs for Artist edition say:
    • 8 virtual instruments and 32 VSTi slots to build textures inside the box
    • 2,664 included instrument sounds
    What does the "virtual instruments" number mean? Number of virtual instruments in the project? Number of instruments playing at once? Can the individual instruments play polyphony? For example, can the 3 virtual instruments be:
    1. Orchestral string section playing four parts
    2. Solo french horn
    3. Tympany
    I'm just makin' this up as I go.

    And another thing... the Cubase product comparison says this:
    Cubase_tracks.JPG
    I know what audio tracks are. What's the difference between MIDI tracks and Instrument tracks? Are MIDI tracks just for external MIDI sound sources? Do they have to be hardware, or can they be "in the box" (but not part of Cubase)?

    I'm so confused.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017

  14. 24 track

    24 track Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    I do too, I never gave my kid toys to play with, I always insisted on the real thing, logic has a lot of fine virtual instruments and effects to play with , but to start off garage band is a watered down Logic where the instruments are transfereable to logic as well, Native instruments has a ton of Virtual plug ins that are centered around orchestral, ethnic, and strings , plus the usual synth type sounds. but make sure the daw is compatable with your operating system amd your computer is maxed with power and ram, you are going to need it
     

  15. raito

    raito Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    Madison, WI
    Reaper has autosave, but you have to turn it on.
     

  16. pete-strych

    pete-strych Tele-Holic

    940
    Jun 19, 2012
    I'm going to answer a few question now, & do some research for others. First of all, Elements doesn't require a dongle! The other versions do though. I use EZ Drummer program for my drum tracks, so I open that as 1 virtual instrument track. Within the EZ Drummer midi piano roll, 14-16 individual drums or room ambiance would be included & not effect the number of individual midi tracks. Halion (included with Cubase) could be opened as a Synth VST instrument track. You could select a String Section within Halion & play polyphony within the string selection midi piano roll. Midi tracks could be totally in the box & use a 3rd party VST instrument as well, either a free VST or otherwise. I hope this helps. I commonly insert several VST effects on almost all of my tracks within the mix...loads of them (most 3 party).
    The automation is also very easy to program.

    You could surely begin with Cubase Elements & upgrade directly with Steinberg to Artist or Pro versions. They run specials throughout the year too, discounting the upgrades. I hope this helps. I apologize for my limited midi knowledge. I just printed like 700 pages of a user manual so I can delve deep into the nuances if Cubase.
     

  17. suthol

    suthol Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 15, 2010
    Sydney - Australia
    I don't use the autosave but having had a lifetime of system software upgrades I learned to save and save often, I also save each major project change such as when I add an instrument or do a major edit as a new item ( 1a, 1b etc ) that way there is always a fallback.
     

  18. woodman

    woodman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free + Supporter

    Age:
    71
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    MIDI is data only — pitch, timing, velocity (volume). You can easily write a MIDI melody or chord sequence (yes, polyphonic) using an inexpensive MIDI keyboard controller. Once your MIDI track is written, you can use plugins like VST, AU, etc. to turn that part into an oboe, marimba, viola or what have you.

    If you could spring for a cheap MAC, the free Garageband is a great entry-level program. It has a world of "virtual instruments" — i.e., plugin setups to emulate almost every instrument available. The Apple loops have a ton of great MIDI sounds you can adapt for your own use: drag in a MIDI loop with a sound you like, trash the MIDI data and write your own notation while retaining the cool sound. You can get a fairly muscular older Mac refurb for reasonable bucks ... my Mac is an older Pro, 2008 vintage and a great music machine. Check out these iMacs — you can make some serious music on these for $300-$400 bucks.
    https://www.macofalltrades.com/21-5-inch-Refurbished-iMacs-s/381.htm

    Regardless of your machine, you're always going to get better performance if you record to an external HD ... your system disk can't always manage the torrent of audio data in additions to its chores of running the system, the DAW and its myriad other tasks. Splitting up the workload results in smoother sailing. ... Good luck, you're on a wonderful mission that will channel your kid's energies in constructive directions!
     

  19. therealfindo

    therealfindo Tele-Holic

    733
    Jun 26, 2012
    Germany
    Reaper is a decent DAW, and I'm not so sure why it's getting written off as a toy.. the included plugins are not the best, or prettiest but do the job, and in any case, it can easily run any other plugins & soft-synths you want/ have.
    Now, Garage Band feels like a toy... or at least no where near as intuitive for overdubbing etc.

    In terms of VST orchestral instruments- lots people have good things to say about the Miroslav Philharmonic which is fairly cheap (as these things go) but I've only used the free selection in Sample Tank (IK Multimedia). I did pick up Sonicox Orchestral Strings on sale for 10€ a while back on Plugin-Boutique.com - worth checking out what they've got.
     

  20. suthol

    suthol Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 15, 2010
    Sydney - Australia
    This, I write a MIDI using the soft keyboard in Reaper and then drop in various VSTi until I find the sound I want.
    1. Create a new track
    2. Create a block
    3. Insert MIDI item
    4. Double click on highlighted block and the keyboard comes up ( no sound if no instrument selected )
    5. Write sequence of desired length
    6. Swap instruments in and out as desired.

    I also routed a guitar solo to a new track to write as a MIDI and the inserted a piano VSTi which created a piano track, didn't like the piano sound so dropped Sax in instead and the duplicated the track and used a flute VSTi so now I have flute and sax solo in about 5 minutes. Then dropped the tenor sax notes to the baritone range.

    In my High Class thread I wrote one polyphonic MIDI track and duplicated it and used trumpet on the 2nd track and pulled a few notes from each track to suit the character of the different horns.

    Done the same with drums but found a single drum track sounds horrible but breaking them out so they can be EQd and compressed differently is a whole different ballgame.

    I'm a rank amateur at this game and an old fart to boot so if I can anyone can.

    I got a MIDI keyboard on Thursday and have yet to try it and hopefully it will expand the horizons even further
     

  21. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 17, 2003
    Charlotte NC
    First off , it's not a problem. It's a purchase option. There are NO FREE packages, the downloads may be free for use for 30 days or something like that. Audio perfection is not a function of the DAW, they all record in a very similar clean file format. How "WE" treat the finished audio track is up to US. Our ears, using the on board tools . I guarantee, if you have a final track that you are not happy with the sound and can't fix it, you are gonna be very upset. "TOOLS". This is where we wear the Engineer hat. Why would we settle for something that doesn't sound good , regardless of which DAW we use ?

    Reaper is NOT free, it's a free download and we are expected to pay either the $60 or the higher rate based on what we use it for.

    Back to this, Reaper is NOT a full featured DAW and they don't advertise it as so. Many folks use it and love it, they get excellent results for what they are doing.

    I am not dissing Reaper or even implying it is a toy, it is excellent for it's use.

    Yes, true, the big boys offer entry level packages for less money. The thing about these is, should you want to upgrade, all you have to do is pay the fare, keep the same package and all of a sudden it is filled with all sorts of embedded features, workflow features , instruments and stuff....

    Pro Tools 12 x for example does not cost $1000, it costs around $500 for the perp license package .It is not just a serious program it is a full featured DAW, midi instruments, processing, full scale editing, midi editing, etc..advanced workflow features, an immense amount of embedded workflow features to allow your work to" make sense", not work arounds.

    Whether it's Pro Tools or another "serious"" package, the reason they are used is not because they have tons of stuff that they may use everyday, it's because users KNOW they will not be locked out and pretty much any issue that arises can be solved from within.

    I'm not saying go buy Pro Tools 12, but you asked whats the difference. Everything is contained, everything is upgrade-able without changing DAWS.

    One Stop Shopping.

    there are several very nice DAW packages , full featured , all inclusive, thats why studios and engineers use them.

    I personally use Pro Tools 12 only because my journey with Pro Tools began with a $149 FULL package back in 2009 with Pro Tools 8. A Blow out sale . I have since moved up to Pro Tools 12 , I didn't change platforms , just versions which has multiple workflow updates and feature updates. Same family.

    IF someone is serious about orchestration composing, my recommendation is give them the good tools right from the get go. Composing is not the same as recording a 5 or 6 track guitar song.

    It's a different animal. A package such as Pro Tools 12 for example comes with multiple "AIR" modules including Air Expand 2 which is probably exactly what you are asking for in a DAW with MIDI instruments. This is why it is referred to as full featured. Other "serious" DAWS have similar embedded packages. Plug in your midi keyboard and go to town. Massive amounts of midi instruments and sound editing/mixing. No need to go outside and seek another plug-in, unless of course you want to.

    The other "serious advantage" to a fully loaded DAW is, once you get it loaded and functioning, you may not have to keep searching for add-ons, drivers, plug-ins etc which may or may not be compatible with your workflow or PC.

    I wonder how many of us have downloaded some sort of plug-in and spent the next month trying to get it to function without crashing the PC or freezing the DAW.

    let me be the first to raise my hand.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017

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