1-48 of 571 results for 'pro tools recording software'. Mackie Onyx Artist 2-2 Audio/Midi interface With Pro Tools First/Tracktion Music Production Software Studio Bundle with Professional Recording Condenser Microphone. 4.3 out of 5 stars. Mar 24, 2017 Re: no midi instruments on Pro Tools 12. Go to Preferences MIDI Default Thru Instrument and select Follows First Selected MIDI Track. Go to Track New. Select Stereo, Instrument and click Create. From the instrument track that you just created, click one of the empty spaces under Inserts.
Compiling a list of the best orchestral sample libraries available becomes more and more difficult every year. The sheer number of companies producing top-quality software for orchestral sampling has increased substantially of late, and there are more options now for the digital composer than ever before in this ever-expanding ecosystem.
To help, we asked composer David Tobin, who has many years of composing, arranging and orchestration credits in film, TV, and theatre and is a master at creating orchestral/crossover scores for advertising and commercials as well as film trailers, to use his experience and share his personal favourites, including the pros and cons of each library.
Because the market is so large, David split up the orchestra and looked at libraries that focus on a specific orchestral section, strings, brass, etc, as well as looking at some all-in-one solutions and other tools that he uses to get the sound and performance his clients depend on him for. Over to you David…
To give you a sense of the difference between the “stock” orchestral sounds found in DAW ROMplers like Logic’s EXS24 and bespoke instruments, the best way is to hear it. Here are two examples, first, here is a clip using the EXS24…
Now the same clip but this time, using a selection of the libraries featured in the series…
We would like to thank Mark Fabian, David’s assistant for helping us put together the audio demos throughout this series.
Before we get stuck into exploring sample libraries, some advice on how to choose the right orchestra sample libraries for you…
What type of sound do you want e.g. Intimate, dry, epic, wet?
How big an ensemble are you looking for?
Do you need premade ensembles, or are you prepared to make them?
What’s your budget?
Do you want or need mic choice?
Do you want exact individual samples or smearing with movement, for example?
How much time do you want to spend learning it?
How will you blend libraries that are recorded more dryly compared with those recorded in a large hall? Do you stick with one product family (recorded in the same hall so they might blend) or do you mix and match? For example, all the Cine family of libraries were recorded in the MGM scoring stage at Sony Pictures.
Is it for sketching or for final output to a client or program?
Here are some considerations when choosing orchestral sample libraries to work with…
Usability. Above all else. If I can’t understand the GUI or the way in which I’m supposed to use it, then I tend to drift away from something. It HAS to be playable.
Great sounding recordings. A great GUI is nothing if it doesn’t sound good pretty quickly - I’m trying to be a musician, not a computer scientist!
Flexibility of sound. Sometimes I need something to sound dry and intimate. Sometimes I need it to feel like it’s in a much larger environment. I want the choice, so I need options. It’s crucial to consider both the sound of the sample and the sound of the acoustic it was recorded within.
Will my computer handle it? What is the likelihood of my computer having enough power to run the instrument! Some sample libraries are HUGE and can be memory and CPU hogs as well as taking up vast amounts of space on drives - so I need to be sure the trade-off is worth it each time.
So now we have set out the aims and objectives let’s start with the all-in-one solutions. I looked at 2 libraries…
Spitfire - BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover
Spitfire - Albion One
Here’s a short snippet of each library…
BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is a remarkable product from Spitfire Audio. Renowned for their high-end sample libraries, curated tutorials and free “labs” libraries, BBCSO Discover is a curated version made up of some useful samples taken from the BBC Symphony Orchestra Core + Pro libraries, which are the big brothers and sisters of the starter library.
It’s remarkable firstly because it gives you access to breadth across the entire symphony orchestra (admittedly with a limited articulation set) but secondly because it’s only £49 (or you can even get it free if you fill in a survey).
This is an old but classic all in one library from Spitfire Audio, originally released in 2008. It has since been re-released with new samples and features in 2018 and is definitely a staple when it comes to orchestral sample libraries. This library not only features ensemble patches with the 3 sections of the orchestra on various articulations, but also has various drums and percussion, organic and warped loops, and synth patches made from the orchestral samples, which makes this a truly epic collection of sounds for anyone wanting to get into trailer, or cinematic music composition. By using sections together (grouped by articulation rather than section) it takes the opposite approach to the BBCSO.
These comments are a small part of what I have to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what I think of both the BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover and Albion One libraries in our article Orchestral Sample Libraries - All In One Solutions as well as which one I choose for my ‘desert island’ section.
If the all-in-one solutions do how deliver the breadth and detail you are looking for then the next level is to put together a selection of sample libraries section by section. To help you choose the right library, David looked at a number of libraries that he uses for each orchestra section. David explains…
As I mentioned in my introductory article, when using libraries each has their own individual fingerprint, strengths and weaknesses so I tend to blend them in order to get a unique sound.
When deciding on what to blend, I look for usability, great-sounding recordings, the flexibility of sound and how easily my computer will cope with the strains of running the sound library in question.
I also focus on the sound of the acoustic in which the samples are recorded, as they give the sound it’s character.
The Strings is the family of orchestra instruments that are most likely to divide opinion. This selection will doubtless be controversial, and 10 composers will give you 10 different lists. But this is his!
Spitfire Chamber Strings
Spitfire Symphonic Strings
Spitfire Tundra (Albion V) Strings
Cinematic Studio Strings (CSS)
Cinematic Studio Solo Strings (CSSS)
Audiobro LA Scoring Strings (LASS)
EastWest Hollywood Strings Gold
As each library has a signature sound, and particular strengths and weaknesses, I tend to blend libraries to create a unique sound, rather than relying on one.
The biggest trade-offs are between the achievable sound, the workflow to achieve it, how hard it pushes my computer and how much I enjoy working with it.
I should also say that I’ve not included solo string libraries like Embertone Joshua Bell Violin (amongst others) as I’ve concentrated on ensemble libraries of both big and small.
Here’s an example of a small mockup to show some of the different sounds of two of my chosen libraries and how they compare to the stock EXS sounds in Logic.
Spitfire Chamber Strings is one of the best string libraries I own. It’s an intimate sound (16 players all told) but it is capable of being layered either on top of other patches within its library or with others to give a larger, lusher sound.
This is Spitfire’s Flagship product. Without completely repeating what I’ve said above, it works almost identically to the Chamber Strings library – the only difference being the number of players in each part of the ensemble.
The whole point of this library is to offer some delicate hushed human-sounding performances with slight imprecision (as normal recordings would have). There are lots of choices of quiet, hushed choices (including my favourite “Air And Ice” patch) which are immediately Cinematic out of the box.
At first glance, there’s a limited amount of choice with CSS. But looks can be very deceiving. One of the greatest barriers to creativity is an instrument that is too complicated to figure out - and this is instantly playable, which makes it a wonderfully creative tool.
CSSS blends so beautifully with CSS that it's a joy to use, and so I use it (with the option of increasing or decreasing the sound of the section size by turning up more or less of the larger library vs the first chair accordingly.
LA Scoring Strings is a Kontakt library. I've owned it since the first week that version one came out and since then the program has changed hugely. It was always powerful, but now it can lay claim to being a one-stop-shop for the string arranger looking for super-realism.
As with all of the Hollywood Orchestral series, this library runs in the proprietary EastWest “Play” engine. This is the budget version of the enormous Diamond Bundle of Strings. Even though it is only 16bit for the gold version, and only has one mic position, it mixes fantastically with other libraries when a huge lush string sound is the order of the day.
These comments are a small part of what I have to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what I think of these 7 strings libraries, as well as which one I chose for his ‘desert island’ section in our article How To Choose Orchestral Sample Libraries - Orchestral Strings.
Let’s talk woodwind samples:
David has tried a number of libraries and just to reiterate that this is NOT an exhaustive list of available options - these are the tools that he chooses to use, and an explanation of why.
CineWinds Core + Pro
Spitfire Symphonic Woodwinds
Hollywood Orchestral Woodwinds
To give you an idea of the differences between these libraries, here’s a recording of a snippet from “Mercury” - part of the Planets, by Holst. It’s woodwind intensive and fast-moving.
CineWinds is a perfect example of a functional GUI that I can quickly understand, playable samples that are easy to manipulate and enough choice that I can create the sound to feel like it’s in the right “space” for my project.
Spitfire Symphonic Woodwind is one of the larger Spitfire Orchestral series, which have all been recorded in the hall at Air Studios, London - to provide an acoustic cohesion to the series as a whole. Like CineWinds it’s a Kontakt library which works in either the Player or Full version of Kontakt.
If I were buying samples on a budget and needed the best bang for my buck, the composer cloud by EastWest is the place to start. In this HUGE bundle, you pay one monthly fee and then get instrument libraries in almost every conceivable genre.
These comments are a small part of what I have to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what I think of these 3 woodwind libraries, as well as which one I chose for his ‘desert island’ section in our article How To Choose Orchestral Sample Libraries - Orchestral Woodwind.
Now it’s time for the Brass. There are a few libraries that David relies on when he needs brass in his orchestral tracks. Each library has its own sound and its own strengths and weaknesses, and he tends to blend libraries to create a unique sound, rather than relying on one.
As previously mentioned, the biggest trade-offs are between the sound achievable, the workflow to achieve it, how hard it pushes my computer and how much I enjoy working with it.
There are 3 libraries in my go-to arsenal for brass (not including genre-specific libraries eg Jazz + Big Band or pop, which we cover in a separate article). David has added a 4th for those working to a tight budget. It’s not an exhaustive list of what’s available – it’s his personal preferences.
CineBrass Core + Pro + Sonore + Descant Horn
Berlin Brass (Orchestral Tools)
Sample Modeling Brass (The Trumpet, The Trombone)
EastWest Hollywood Brass Gold
To give you an idea of the differences between these libraries, here’s a quick mock-up of the first part of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (including a version for the stock EXS logic sounds for a comparison)
CineBrass in all its forms has become my go-to brass family. It’s housed in Native Instruments Kontakt and works in either the full or the Free “Player” version. It’s quick to use, totally functional and well recorded.
Berlin Brass is a bit of an enigma for me. It’s fantastically well recorded in a beautiful hall (on the Berlin Teldex Stage) and there’s a huge array of microphone choices across bundles of articulations.
This is an ingenious “adaptive model” of an instrument based on the physical properties of the instrument and it’s performance characteristics. They take a few samples and then “model” what these sound like played in different ways, and with different articulations.
As with all of the Hollywood Orchestral series, this library runs in the proprietary EastWest “Play” engine. Instruments from the entire orchestra have been sampled in their orchestral positions so that without touching any dials, the instruments sound where they would be placed in a live orchestral recording.
These comments are a small part of what David has to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what he thinks of these 4 brass libraries, as well as which one he chose for his ‘desert island’ section in our article How To Choose Orchestral Sample Libraries - Orchestral Brass.
If you’ve followed the series this far you’ll know that I choose libraries based on a trade-off between how great they sound, how easy they are to use and how much I enjoy using the interface.
The libraries I’ll look at are as follows:
Project Sam - True Strike
Spitfire - Hans Zimmer Percussion
Soniccouture - Grand Marimba
EastWest - StormDrum 2 aka SD2 (Composer Cloud)
In Session Audio - Taiko Creator
In this case, there are no comparison audio clips as several are instruments-specific. Instead, we’ve created a short snippet of each library so you can get a flavour. Please note, the EastWest clip uses one of the inbuilt loops.
Project Sam is a Dutch company that has been producing sampled Virtual instruments for nearly 20 years. I think the reason I like this instrument is that it doesn’t have a gazillion patches. As with all other Projects Sam libraries I own, it features multiple mic positions and it’s absolutely beautifully recorded.
As with all other Spitfire products, it’s absolutely beautifully recorded at Air Studios and fits seamlessly into the sonic Spitfire palette. One of the particularly useful and usable features of this library is the way the new Kickstart GUI has been implemented. Essentially you can access each of the instrument families from one main starting page.
Marimba is such a staple for any media composer and this is the one I always reach for. Grand Marimba by Soniccouture is a specific Kontakt library for nothing but Marimba. Soniccouture made a name for themselves in the world of world percussion with some beautifully sampled niche products like Gamalan, Tongue Drums and Pan Drums.
Storm Drum 2 is yet another of the EastWest Composer Cloud instruments that I highly recommend if you are being budget-conscious as well as quality-conscious! EastWest describe this instrument as “over 12gb of percussion madness which exceeds all other instruments”. This is a pretty bold claim but in part, it lives up to this in my opinion.
The final product I regularly use is Taiko Creator by In Session Audio. It’s designed for both Kontakt and the free Kontakt Player. This taiko-specific library seems to resonate with me (no pun intended) as I often find an instrument-specific library a quick and useful solution for some things. As with Grand Marimba, this is an instrument-specific library and just like Grand Marimba I really can’t fault it in any regard.
These comments are a small part of what David has to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what he thinks of these 5 percussion libraries, as well as which one he chose for his ‘desert island’ section in our article How To Choose Orchestral Sample Libraries - Orchestral Percussion.
Next, we turn to one of the forgotten areas of the orchestral world, the harp. Because harp libraries focus on that instrument alone, it can often be forgotten when allocating budget for samples and consequently can be overlooked completely - with users relying on inbuilt factory sounds of their DAW, which sells the instrument short.
I have tried a number of harp libraries and this list is made up of the ones I choose to use...
Kontakt library Orchestral Harp (from legacy Vienna Symphonic Orchestral sounds (VSL)
Bonus mention for Arpeggio (Sonokinetic!!)
To give you an idea of the differences between these libraries, here’s a recording of a few bars we’ve composed to show the differences in the sound of each library.
As with all of the original spitfire products pre 2020 (this product originated in 2015), this is a Kontakt library - which works in either the free Kontakt Player or the full Kontakt instrument.
I do like the subtlety of the different articulations. The flageolet (harmonic), which is made by placing the ball of the hand on a string whilst plucking to produce an overtone is beautiful and haunting. The glissandos (glisses) are often the primary thing composers look for in a harp library and there are a whole heap of choices in this library.
Unlike the Spitfire harp which is less soloistic and immediately blends into a mix, the CineHarp feels tailor-made for featuring prominent harp lines. The pluck on the basic patch is mightily plucked and so it really stands out - maybe almost too much, but I do like its bold approach.
Thankfully they’ve given multiple mix options, including a surround mix option so you can move the untreated sound further back and set a delay, to allow the sample to sit closer in time to the reverb.
Part of my mission in this series is to make sure I shine a spotlight on sounds that composers on a budget can access. Native Instruments Komplete is one of those things that many composers choose as a one-stop-shop solution to get started, giving access to tens of Gb of samples, synths, FX and loops across almost every conceivable genre.
Within this absolutely MASSIVE collection of instruments (admittedly of varying quality) are some real pearls. One of these, in my opinion, is the orchestral harp (which is part of a small legacy collection ported in from Vienna Symphonic (VSL).
These comments are a small part of what I have to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what I think of these 4 harp libraries, as well as which one I chose for his ‘desert island’ section in our article How To Choose Orchestral Sample Libraries - Orchestral Harp.
So far we have covered the all-in-one solutions and the orchestral section specific sample libraries. To wrap up this very comprehensive series we are going to look at libraries that are focused on the Jazz and Big Band sounds. Then to close we look at some software that supports the whole process that David uses every day to help add some polish and finesse to my work as well as make it easier.
Next, we are going to take a swinging side-step into the world of Jazz and Big Band sample libraries.
It’s an area that is not often explored as there aren’t nearly as many options for the budding jazz arranger/writer, but I wanted to share with you the jazz libraries I love and why!
One of the things that I focus on is the sound of the acoustic in which the samples are recorded, as they give the sound it’s character. However, this week (like so much of Jazz) one of the star libraries breaks many of these rules!
Broadway Big Band - Fable Sounds
The Trumpet + The Trombone - Sample Modelling
Swing - Project Sam
Swing More - Project Sam
Glory Days - Orchestral Tools
Trillian - Spectrasonics
Vintage Drums - Native Instruments (as part of Komplete)
To do this genre justice David enlisted some help from some good friends and colleagues Daisy Coole and Tom Nettleship - a.k.a Two Twentytwo Music. They’ve graciously allowed us to mock up a section of one of their fantastic swinging big band pieces (Swing Sister Swing).
Instead of trying to use an entire library to mock up the whole big band, I used the same rhythm section throughout:
Spectrasonics Trillian for the bass (upright bass patch)
N.I Vintage Drums
Spectrasonics Keyscapes for the Piano (not featured as it’s not primarily a jazz library)
Then on top of these, my aim is to show you each of the other featured libraries to compare their various sounds. There’s also a snippet of just bass and drums so you can hear them more clearly.
Where to start with this enigma of a library? Broadway Big Band breaks all the rules I have for a successful sample library. So why on earth would I even consider featuring a library that is as annoying to use, confusing to understand and hard to get to grips with? Simply because it sounds absolutely stunning!
The first thing to say about these remarkable libraries is that they are not technically just sample libraries, they are a different concept. Instruments are sampled chromatically as well as sampling phrases and articulations at one dynamic. The instruments model both the physical and behavioural characteristics of an instrument, which is what is so ingenious.
Project Sam Swing is a Kontakt based library that is intended for is to create a Jazzy film score or TV music. To that end, they’ve set things out very usefully into seven different categories. These include individual instruments, ensemble patches (which include big band chords), tempo-synced grooves, lead instruments, rhythm guitar and slide guitars.
Project Sam Swing More is a Kontakt based companion library to ‘Swing”. It focuses on filling in the gaps in the original library. It’s primarily designed for use in the film-noir genre, but this time with much more focus on solo instruments. That said, they’ve covered an enormous amount of ground. One of the things I love about this library is that it’s the complete antithesis to Broadway Big Band. It’s simple to understand and quick to pick up, even though there’s a lot of detail.
Glory Days is a bold first step for Orchestral tools. It’s a Kontakt based library (requiring the full version of Kontakt) and features huge articulation choices for all instruments in the library. As with the orchestral libraries made by Orchestral tools, the focus is on individual instruments per part (as opposed to ensemble patches).
For much of my jazz and big band writing, I look for a convincing upright bass sample and this is just about the best one I’ve ever heard and played. On the main page, it’s possible to configure the amount of slap and noise on the sample and that’s just the start. The instruments were recorded both with Mic and through a D.I, and controls for both are available.
Abbey Road Vintage Drummer is a library specifically for writing 20’s - 50’s music in the jazz and cinematic spheres. One of the things I love about this Kontakt library is its simplicity. It’s made up of two main patches (each with full or lite versions). If you like your jazz in the whimsical area (think anything pre-Jetsons) then this library may well be for you.
These comments are a small part of what David has to say about these libraries. You can learn much more about them all and what he think of these 7 jazz and big band libraries, as well as which one he chose for his ‘desert island’ section in our article How To Choose Orchestral Sample Libraries - Big Band And Jazz.
Having worked our way through all of the samples that have made it into his favourites list, this week we will look at associated software which David uses to help him in his production of sampled orchestral music.
Here’s a list of what we’ll be covering, broken down by category:
Vienna MIR Pro (Multi Impulse Response) is a remarkable product. It’s a spatial mixing and reverb engine and basically it allows you to create the sound of a Tree mic which you can then mix in with the original source. It runs (like Vienna Ensemble) as a separate program which opens when you launch the plugin in your DAW.
Virtual Soundstage (VSS) by Parallax Audio is another plugin for use in any DAW which attempts to do the same job as Vienna MIR Pro. It was originally developed in 2011 as part of a University Project and is still run as a one-man company.
Audio Ease Altiverb is probably the best known and best quality convolution reverb and a tool that I use all the time. What I particularly love about Altiverb is that I can choose from the actual sound of a small studio or a church (like my personal favourite St Josephs Church) and both are utterly real (because the sound of that actual space has been recorded).
LiquidSonics Seventh Heaven is an absolutely wonderful reverb. LiquidSonics are fast making a reputation for superb products and this fits right into that category. The professional version has more functionality and every single preset from the M7, but after trying both I found that the regular version gives me everything I need. If you are working in surround and want real rooms then also check out LiquidSonics Cinematic Rooms
FabFilter Pro-Q 3 - Like many composers, I am a bit of a hoarder of plugins. I have literally dozens of EQ plugins and many of them have been used once and then rarely reopened. However, the Fab Filter Pro-Q3 is one of those rare plugins that I now use pretty much exclusively for EQ and it’s stayed as my go-to EQ despite all those other contenders.
iZotope Ozone 9 - I particularly like the sound of the vintage compressor and the fact that it’s so easy to use by virtue of its auto gain match - which allows you to readily compare your mix with and without the effect applied. I also really like the exciter and the fact that you can choose from various saturation modes - and you can choose to add this saturation to the overall stereo sound or as a mid/side function.
iZotope RX7 - There are two reasons I think this is a tool everyone should aim to have at their disposal. Firstly, many wonderful sample libraries have imperfections. Artifacts that were recorded (noise, key clicks, coughs) and that haven’t been appropriately removed in post-production by the manufacturer. Secondly, it is extremely common to add one live instrument (or a few) to a mock-up made with primarily sampled instruments. If those instruments are noisy, hissy or generally have any imperfections they can often stand out and not meld. RX takes care of this problem.
Avid Control App - If you are someone that likes the tactile approach rather than using just a mouse and lots of clicks, then the Avid Control is a definite option. It’s free and you don’t have to have work in Pro Tools to use it.
Logic iPad Remote - Using the app you can use the touchscreen to do multi-touch mixing, control logic virtual instruments, navigate your project, add or edit automation, trigger live loops and trigger key commands via customisable buttons.
Keymand is one of those brilliant programs that I only recently discovered but now has opened my eyes to the possibilities of programs that help you access Key Commands which you just aren’t going to remember by assigning them to individual buttons on the iPad, and then naming and assigning a colour to each button. It’s extremely cost-effective (and not difficult to use).
Note Performer is an artificial intelligence playback engine that allows high-quality renditions of score playback in Sibelius, Finale and Dorico with a VERY small computer footprint (as it’s not sample-based). Note Performer isn’t an alternative to an end product mock-up or recording. But when I’m playing something to a client to get their agreement of a cue before it’s mocked up properly or recorded, Note Performer is more than good enough. It works in conjunction with the dictionary in Sibelius.
StaffPad is a rare beast. It is one of the very few pieces of software that stopped me in my tracks and made me change my whole workflow after many years of searching for something similar. StaffPad is effectively an offline sampler. It is not an artificial intelligent playback engine like Note Performer. It plays real sample libraries as I know them in my DAW. But unlike a DAW it doesn’t need to have all the samples loaded and ready for keyboard performance all of the time, so it’s footprint is light enough to run a full orchestral template with several libraries within an iPad.
These comments are a small part of what I have to say about these tools. You can learn much more about them all and what I think of all of these tools in 2 articles. Note Performer and Staffpad are covered in our article Two Great Pieces Of Software Every Orchestral Composer Should Consider Using and all the others David explores in our article Using Orchestral Sample Libraries? Check Out This List Of Software.