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Berlin Series - three tech questions

Discussion in 'Tips, Tricks & Talk' started by Charlotte McMillan, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. Hi all,
    I'm contemplating getting Berlin strings and brass, and possibly the woods and percussion as well. I'm not yet that close to making a decision, but have three basic questions at this point:

    1. Would my machine where the libraries would be installed be up to the task? This is a slave PC with Windows 7 Pro. It has 32 Gb of ram. The processor is an i7-3770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz. I use Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 (will upgrade to 6 soon) to network this to a MacBook Pro with 16 Gb of ram and Digital Performer 9.
    2. Would it be best to install this library on an SSD? (I guess SSDs are better for most libraries, but just wondering if they're deemed essential for this one.)
    3. Can one eventually develop a good workflow with the Berlin series? I'm a little bit daunted by the complicatedness of the instruments and CAPSULE. I also wonder if they truly work smoothly or if there are technical glitches that users have run into.
    I'd welcome info on any of the questions. Thanks.
     
  2. Hi Charlotte,

    1
    . A lot of computer resource usage depends on your work flow and sample needs. Based on the libraries/sections you mentioned, I am assuming you are working on a full orchestral template.
    The Berlin Series (particularly the woodwinds) are world class (probably in the top 5 libraries of this genre on the market).
    If you want every patch/articulation loaded into RAM, with every recorded mic position routed through your DAW (DP9) via Vienna Ensemble Pro, then 32GB of will not be sufficient (few people have that kind of set up). Fortunately, you don't have to load the whole library into RAM, as you can stream a portion of the samples from the disk (you can also purge your unused samples and they will load from the disk as needed or render/freeze-in-place the audio to free up RAM).

    Another complicating factor is the buffer size of your audio driver: Smaller buffer = more chance for audio errors if the CPU or disk speeds are too low, but lower (playable) latency for input. Higher buffer = less chance for processor/disk glitches, but unplayable note input due to the high latency. It is a balancing act that other people on here can comment on.

    2. Yes, streaming from SSDs would free up a lot of your RAM when reading samples from disk, because their read/write speeds are so much higher than a mechanical hard drive. Of course the trade off is $ per GB for storage. You can use HDDs (7200rpm or 10000rpm, but not 5400rpm) if cost is a factor, but I think most people would recommend SSDs for sample use regardless of the library.

    3. As to the work flow question, the Berlin series (and its cinematic cousin the Metropolis Series also by Orchestral Tools) has a fair amount of reverb baked into the samples, even with the close mic settings, but it is easy to "place" on stage with other libraries if you follow some of the reverb/early reflection methods posted elsewhere on this message board or in Mike's tutorials.
    If you get the expansion packs, they add a lot of variety and instrument options to the library (solo instruments like piccolo trumpet/euphonium/bass trumpet/bass clarinet/eb clarinet).
    There are numerous instruments that can be individually loaded on a per articulation basis or as keyswitched multis based on how you like to work.
    I use Cubase and Reaper, so I am partial to keyswitches and expression maps. I tried out DP, but can't comment on it. Capsule is cool, it is basically a 4 layer menu scheme that lets you set the articulation/mic/dynamics/performance options. As with other Kontakt libraries, you can save your instrument presets for recall on later projects..
     
  3. Hi Bradley,

    Thanks so much for this very detailed explanation! It’s very helpful.

    I wish I could get by without either purging or rending/freezing in place. I’m NOT a fan of freezing tracks; I had to do that in the bad old days when I had a Mac G4 with a teeny memory. With my current setup, I’ve never run into a situation in which I’ve been forced to freeze tracks. Nor have I had to purge samples, though I occasionally have problems with glitchy audio and/or plugin instruments that crash DP. Purging samples does not sound like a happy solution to me. What if I change my mind about what notes I want to use? I read on here that you can purge all samples and have them dynamically loaded into RAM as they are triggered. Does that really work?

    As for buffer size, I’m not quite sure how this works with Vienna Ensemble Pro on my PC. I don’t see anything on my VE Pro’s preferences that allow me to stipulate the buffer size. It only has a checkbox for “enable plugin latency.” On my Mac, I can certainly stipulate buffer size in DP. It’s currently 512, which I guess is not too high, but I think that’s the default setting since I’ve never messed with it too much. My audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4.

    I write for full orchestra (here’s a sample of my work), and am looking for a detailed, lovely sound, with all instruments in the same hall. Berlin appeals because, well, it has a great sound. And it seems as it offers a richer array of articulations, techniques, and expression. And it keeps everything in one space! (Unlike my current libraries — all from different developers — which have a wide variety of spaces.). But I just worry about running into technical bottlenecks that will inhibit my workflow - that I’ll spend time trying to minimize RAM usage just to get instruments to play. Ideally, I’d like to hear my mix at my clients would hear it —with the full range of microphones. I also wonder whether CAPSULE can smoothly perform all it is claimed it can do. I’m not really worried about the learning curve — that’s fine with me. I’m more worried about getting the whole system to run smoothly.

    Thanks again for all the info.
     
  4. I bought one berlin brass expansion to see if I would like it... hated it. YMMV though, it is however significantly cheaper than buying most of the orchestra. You can however attempt to make libraries blend well enough, but I won't talk you out of *trying* to get everything under the same roof.

    I think berlin is more or less a library that needs some programming love, and from my experience - not the most playable thing in the universe.

    But don't take my word for it - I don't even want to talk about how many brass libraries I've bought and even tonight I'm reloading SM brass into my template. That said - you can make great strides towards matching rooms with instruments like sample modelling, because you can pre-eq, shape a reverb to match the tail, re-EQ to match.

    Works reasonably well in some cases with other libraries that have a lot of mics too... you can usually blend them to get the depth to feel right, then just EQ.

    If for instance you wanted to achieve the Berlin Brass sound with SM, I would first examine the seating diagrams(if any), use whatever stereo imagine/panning you want to match up with the BB instrument - then throw on something like Pro-Q both tracks(partially for the imaging from the flat EQ on the BB)

    Pull and mangle the pro-Q to sound approximate, put your favorite teldex IR(like altiverb/MIR pro) or find a similar scoring stage preset. check and see what areas it's adding more buildup than the original BB eq signal - dampen that region, then look at the different frequency band differences for more minute tuning with a 2nd pro Q on top to fix the tail/final result.

    if spatially the instrument sounds like it's coming from the same spot - it'll be an excellent start.
     
  5. When you connect your DAW to VEP server, you can set the individual latency buffer per instance of VEP. So, on your MAC (the master I assume) you set the latency for VEP to connect to your PC (the host slave in this case). There are 5 drop down options for latency: none, & 1 to 4 buffers. This is based on your audio interface's buffer size (usually in samples or ms), so 512 sample buffer on your Focusrite:
    None = 512
    1 Buffer = 1024
    2 Buffers = 1536
    3 Buffers = 2048
    4 Buffers = 2560
    It is likely you won't use more than 2 buffers. For more info on the latency and VEP program, I would take a minute to run through the manual again.

    Kyle's got excellent advice on how to make Sample Modeling (or any other library) try to fit in the same sonic space. I am a brass player, and SM makes a really playable and convincingly expressive sound. I love their products, but they do require work on the programing side and the mixing side.

    Back to the Berlin Series topic. You are on the right track doing research before you invest a couple hundred dollars/euros on these massive libraries. If you like the demo sounds on Soundcloud/YouTube, then get a sense of the work flow (watch people that use it on "live composing" tutorials), and make a judgement before dropping the money on it. Honestly, you will still have to balance your template, your articulations, your panning/placement and all of that tedious stuff even when you buy a complete package from one developer - because EastWest/Orchestral Tools/Spitfire don't do that on their end.
     
  6. watching people actually use the library is generally more useful than watching the website demos. It helps to actually see someone physically playing the keyboard - and what you can expect when inputting it. I could make a great sounding demo using just 1-2 articulations, and an excellent programmer could take the time to sculp a perfect phrase, no doubt - but nothing is worse than droping 600+$ on a library to get it and realize it's so unplayable that you'd have been better off sticking to Hollywood brass and living in 2011.

    ofcourse I'm not convinced the AIR stuff sits too well with most other libraries... AIR is practically a church - which is partly why other libraries seem a little out of place. But if your current libraries aren't insanely wet - there are plenty of options for picking and choosing. Or you can just suck it up and get used to lots of reverb on SM.

    My current template is like 99% air.
    I've got:
    Spitfire Symphonic Strings + Evo
    Spitfire Chamber Strings + Evo
    Spitfire Symphonic Woodwinds
    Spitfire Percussion
    Spitfire Hans Zimmer Percussion
    Spitfire Orchestral Grand
    Union Chapel Organ(I know this isn't AIR)
    Spitfire Harp
    Spitfire Harpsichord

    and now for the brass libraries I've got sitting on my hard drive
    Trailer Brass
    Adventure Brass
    Caspain Brass
    Hollywood Brass
    all of Cinebrass
    Kirk Hunter
    Chris Hein Orchestral Brass
    Spitfire Symphonic brass
    And probably more I can't think of all the top of my head.

    And I still end up preferring sample modeling, I just wish I could perfect the sound without needing to be a reverb scientist. By the sound of your example, I'd imagine you'd be pretty happy with sample modeling too... It's biggest weakness is keeping up with the modern Hollywood 38 horn ensemble stuff... IF anything I feel like clever use of orchestral colors covers the lack of reverb/tail if it would otherwise be naked. Might give you an example

    edit: I have some odds and ends too, like angry brass, session horns pro, and ofcourse I bought one of the berlin brass expansions(with the contrabass trombone, piccolo and bass trumpet) just to see how the engine worked, which I wasn't a fan of... nor the sound really.
     


  7. having issues capturing sound on my screen cap, but that's just as good of an example of something else I've been trying to say

    I'd rather SM with no reverb(it's got a little ER to give it some body before it hits a real revern) recorded from a phone mic than a sample library that either forces you to write simple lines, or requires you slave your life away to get a convincing line programmed in.

    it doesn't require much programming, thought knowledge of the knobs helps alot, I'm using cello and viola legato patches an octave down, no keyswitches just modwheel and a little vibrato added here and there.(I don't use pitch bend) and that's saying a lot because I can't play the keyboard to save my life - it's just a time leech to sit there noodling bits of Williams melodies on SM brass. It's like designed for it.

    of course the trumpets are a *little* closer than they should be, but I give them a little extra room for that FFF if I need it.
     
    Charlotte McMillan likes this.
  8. Hi Charlotte,

    CAPSULE is not too difficult. It lets you create your own set of keyswitches (you can load as many or as few articulations as you want). Two or more articulations can also be stacked to trigger simultaneously, and the mix between them can be controlled live with CC22. For example you can combine staccato and sustain to get a little more accented attack, and use CC22 to mix in a different amount of staccato for different notes. Finally you can use CAPSULE to add legato transitions to any articulation. It's all very useful.

    The real problems with Berlin Brass are RAM and dynamic range.

    BB is a huge RAM hog. It's in the neighborhood of 110 to 150 GB to load all 11 instruments with all 6 mic positions and a reasonable amount of articulations (legato, sustain, stacc, stacc'smo, marc long, marc short, fortepiano for example). With just 1 mic position you could probably get it down to 20 GB. But as you can see that is most of your sample host taken up... just for hosting one library...

    The dynamic range of Berlin Brass is really weak.

    [​IMG]

    You can go both louder and softer with Hollywood Brass and with Adventure Brass. And doubtless some other libraries.

    In addition, the dynamic programming of Berlin Brass makes little sense - see this thread - https://vi-control.net/community/threads/how-to-fix-berlin-brass.63516/ - which makes it work intensive to program them because each instrument's "true" dynamic curve is different, no matter what the little dial in the middle is saying...

    So you combine the aspects of a library that is a RAM hog, is very work intensive, and has a weak dynamic range. What are the advantages? The sound of 11 individual musicians (instead of "stacking" the same soloist over and over, like stacking the single F Horn soloist in Hollywood Brass four times to create a section). And secondly, the ability to get a lot of different mix types thanks to the 6 flexible mics.

    Oh by the way, plus it's like twice as expensive as many of its competitors... Hollywood, Adventure, Cinebrass PRO, etc.

    I know the appeal of an "all in one room" solution but I think very few pros are relying on one developer anymore... it's probably worth it to "rip off the band aid" and get into mixing starting with your next template as its a perennial skill. (I'm still bad at it!)

    Much less of my comments apply to Berlin Woodwinds. It's a lower RAM footprint, the dynamic range is still pretty conservative but matters less, and I think (at least for the original library, can't say anything about BWW Revive) the musicians matched each others' dynamics better. There's also significantly less competition in the woodwinds sector. Your professional choices kind of boil down to BWW, VSL, Spitfire, or hoping Cinematic Studio Woodwinds comes out some time this decade.

    Berlin Strings, IMO... there are A LOT of good string libraries out there that can do what BS can do or better in certain applications... again for half the price.
     
  9. boo hoo, no mention if audiomodelling woodwinds

    imo those are also killer, I just find the SWW better on the staccato department

    yeah noam is ridiculously good at the under hood programming of libraries, I remember it was some thing you were working on with Berlin brass that made me consider the purchase in the first place! which is sad because I really really like the SM/divisi approach, so I was keeping my fingers crossed.

    that said, didn't even know about jaspers bell up library, if I make a sketch template I might have to snag that.

    As far as strings, I think spitfire is the one to beat... both SCS and SSS are good. Though I can't remember off the top of my head which library Noam prefers... was it css?
     
  10. Thank you all so much for weighing in, and sharing your thoughts so extensively.

    Bradley - thanks for the info on buffering. I’d forgotten that the buffer settings for VE Pro are inside the DAW. Yes, I have to break down and walk the three feet to where the manual sits and reread the darn thing. I’ve been scouring YouTube for some live composing videos with the Berlin strings and haven’t found any. If anyone knows of any, please let me know. There are a number of walkthroughs, which are somewhat helpful, but not as helpful as a live composing tutorial would be. Blakus seems to think very favorably of Berlin Strings and they sound very impressive in one of his walkthrough videos. (Oh and here’s another video where he compares the “as is" legatos of several string libraries.).

    Well, I still feel that the balance and placement will be easier with products that were recorded in the same place. But perhaps I’m deluded about that. I currently own Cinematic Strings 2, HW Brass Gold, Sonokinetic Woodwind Ensembles, Xsamples chamber instruments, and of course, EWQLSO Platinum. I find it hard to get HW Brass and CS2 to mesh together. CS2 goes from amazingly pianissimo to, well, not very loud. HW Brass in the meantime, seems to have a bigger, wider sound and seems much more calibrated toward loud dynamics. EWQLSO instruments seem very amped up and can easily overpower CS2. I’ve also got other odds and ends - some of the Sonokinetic phrase libraries and part of the Bravura Brass library. All decent tools. But I have a hard time getting CS2 and HW Brass to sound like they’re in the same room.

    I had not thought of Sample Modeling for orchestral brass. I own the Trumpet 3, which indeed is remarkably realistic sounding, with all the subtle idiosyncrasies of a live performance. I bought it to use for jazz and pop tracks. It seems overly bright and a little thin for orchestral use, but maybe I haven’t explored all that it can do. It sounds to me like they placed a microphone right in front of the bell, which irritates me a little bit. Obviously, it gains some thickness with a good reverb. And it would need to be shoved to the back to play in an orchestra. :). Anyway, it sounds like a lot of work to get it placed on an orchestral stage!

    Noam, thanks for all your insights into Berlin. Good to read your assessment of CAPSULE. I guess it’s the brass that should be giving me pause. I wonder what people do who use it regularly. Lots of freezing and purging? I didn’t realize that BB was falling short in terms of dynamic range. When I listened to demos like this one it didn’t occur to me that the dynamic range was smaller than other libraries. (Just curious, where is the spreadsheet of dynamics coming from?) I guess a solution for me would be to use my HW Brass Gold if I need to up the power of the brass. I could easily upgrade to HWB Diamond.

    Ah, Noam, you’ve put a chink in my resolve! I’ll say this: I’m a sucker for new libraries as much as anyone else, but thankfully, most of the time I don’t have the ability to get everything I’m lusting after. What I don’t want is to be on an endless quest for an elusive sound, never finding my white whale. :). Speaking only for myself, I’ve spent way too much time looking at products, time which I could have better spent honing my skills. Honestly, I’d rather just put a fork in this thing, get as complete, cohesive, high quality orchestral a sound as I can find, and get on with my creative work (which hopefully will turn out to be more composing rather than sound engineering). But maybe that quest is also elusive, as developers inevitably update their products, usually shortly after I buy them. Gah.

    What I hear when I listen to the Spitfire or Berlin demos is detailed sound (they sound like real brass and strings), depth (I can hear that certain sections are behind / to the side of other sections) and just general clarity. And often a very beautiful sound, as in CSS or Berlin Strings. The best of those demos sound like one orchestra in a hall. EastWest’s Hollywood Orchestra also sounds good, but to my ears sounds much more geared toward epic writing. Maybe that’s just because so many of their demos are epic tracks. I may very well try out the Hollywood Orchestra with a one month cloud subscription. But my thinking right now is: Berlin strings and woodwinds. I can certainly try HW Brass Gold with these to see how it works. And if it does, upgrade to HWB Diamond later. (Blakus seems to favor this combination.) Percussion: don’t know yet. I’m not so dissatisfied with EWQLSO’s percussion, except the timpani. And Berlin has a separate timpani product, so maybe that’s the way to go.

    Well, thanks again for all your thoughts and insights. And thanks for the video, Kyle!
     
  11. I don't think it's too difficult to get sm brass back in orchestral setting, I would just preliminary throw some EQ tailing off the highs quite a bit, map CC 14 to a knob, play unison with whatever brass Library you want and start from there

    When I get off of work tonight I will make you a short video, tell me which Library you want SM trumpet to sit with, I can probably even match Berlin brass despite not owning it
     
  12. Well, what I'd really like to see is the SM trumpet with Hollywood Brass with Cinematic Strings 2, but I realize you don't have CS2. So maybe SM with SSS, just to see how it fits with other instruments recorded in a hall. Look forward to the video.
     
  13. I can do HW brass. it's easier because I own it.

    does cs2 have a brass counterpart?

    instead of showing you SM with cs2, I'll also include how to mix 2 libraries using mics
     
  14. OK. What I'm really interested in is how to get the very dry, dead sound (don't mean that pejoratively) of the SM trumpet seamlessly into an orchestral space. CS2 does not have a brass counterpart.
     
  15. Well the best technique is to use your ears especially if you have a favorite orchestration melodically.

    In order to appropriately seat SM between those two libraries you would need to balance them with microphones first

    How many Mike positions does CS2 have
     
  16. It has three: close, stage, and room. Plus there's a "mix" option, which I assume is a mixture of the three.
     
    Kyle Judkins likes this.
  17. Well I have another two hours of work, before I get home

    That said, it should be relatively easy to get those two to sit together. One thing that is essential, is that you really focus on the dynamic level you are balancing between the instruments

    A good example would be if you know your string Library only goes to Forte, and you're balancing with double F or triple F horns, you should have the Dynamics on the horns Forte and balance that way otherwise it'll ruin the space and make it seem like the horns are 30 ft back
     
  18. Yes, calibrating the dynamics of different libraries to meet the loudest level of the softest library... that's what I've been trying to do. Still working on it.
     
  19. Kyle, do you mostly layer SM brass on top of another brass library, or do you actually use it as a section?
     
  20. you can layer it, but idk.

    I feel like it sounds too "epic" too easily

    like 6 trumpets 10 horns 8 bones
     

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