Vienna Symphonic Library KONTAKT | ~ 100 Gb
The Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) is a producer of samples of orchestral instruments recorded by members of the Vienna Philharmonic. For recording the samples, VSL uses the Silent Stage, a recording studio specially constructed for this purpose. The number of recorded samples currently is about 1.75 million. VSL's Vienna Instruments Symphonic Cube contains a full orchestra made up of ten collections that can also be acquired separately: solo strings, chamber strings, two collections of orchestral strings, harps, two collections of woodwinds, two collections of brass (one of which includes Wagner tuba), and percussion.
Imagine waking up one morning and saying to yourself, “I'm not happy with what's out there. I think I'll just…sample an orchestra.” Austrian musician/composer Herb Tucmandl took this notion several hundred steps further: The Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL) is by far the largest and most ambitious sample library ever developed: Even the initial 16-bit/44.1kHz version comes on 14 double-layer DVDs, taking up 94 GB — yes, gigabytes — of hard disk storage. Anyone who's heard the library's online demos knows that VSL is something special, in both quality and quantity. Every instrument has been meticulously recorded in stereo, playing a staggering number of articulations, making it possible to sequence highly expressive and realistic orchestral performances. Variations include notes of various lengths, all kinds of dynamics (accents, crescendos/decrescendos, etc.), and effects such as tremolo strings and flutter-tongued winds and brass, trills, rolls — all recorded at various tempos and mapped to the keyboard in different combinations.
A low noise floor is especially important for sample recording. VSL was recorded in the Silent Stage, a custom room essentially devoid of reverb. (See sidebar on page 108 for more on the VSL facilities.) Plus, not having reverb allows you to add your own and blend the VSL instruments with others very easily.
So if you hear the VSL dry, it sounds completely wrong! But it's not intended to be heard that way. Only after running it through a good reverb program do you realize just how outstanding the recording quality is across the entire library: miked closely enough to be detailed, back far enough to sound right in an orchestral context, well-managed dynamics; it's just really satisfying to play. I've been getting excellent results running VSL instruments through some of the hall programs in Audio Ease's Altiverb, a sampling/convolution reverb processor.
Looking at the individual sections, the strings are powerful, large sections, re-corded with just the right amount of rosin. Sampled harps are usually recorded with mics way too close, but not this one: It's just outstanding. The brass is more refined than gritty, but it still has power to go with its clarity; both solo and four-person sections are available.
For now, the woodwinds are all solo, but VSL is planning to release alternative performances for making choirs. Piccolo is really the only standard orchestral instrument missing from the initial release, but it will be among the instruments in the forthcoming Pro Edition, along with solo strings and many other instruments and articulations. (I heard a beta of the solo violin from that set and it's absolutely stunning.)
The percussion is uniformly spectacular, and it includes some really nice exotic instruments such as spring drum and Japanese singing bowls. There are samples of cymbal rolls played with various weapons, but cymbal crescendos are missing from the collection.
Sample library reviews usually conclude with comments like, “I was surprised at how much of this disc was actually usable.” Well, the VSL is miles beyond those considerations: Every articulation of every instrument is not just usable, it's for real.
Taking nothing away from the other excellent libraries on the market, I consider the VSL one of the most important products in the history of modern music technology. Reviewers are supposed to keep their distance, but even with my eyes wide open, I have to confess to having fallen madly in love with it. It's awesome and inspiring to work with.
Format: NKI WAV
The library converted from .gig into .nki .wav format for NI Kontakt sampler. Some performance articulations, legato and repetition don't work here, as they require native gigastudio performance tools. Since gigastudio is not very well supported by modern OS, converted kontakt library may be used as an alternative.
Kontakt 2 or higher required.
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