I’m trying to get a handle on mixing and orchestrating the East West audio library. I posted a version of this a while back and I’ve redone it with suggestions from members here, I’d like to get some more feedback. All comments welcome!
Hmm, that melody sounds v-e-r-y familiar. I think it sounds really good Ingo! I did wonder if the drum kit (standard drum beat) could come up in volume a bit. I’m guessing it’s just there in the background for some kind of percussion, and if too loud might overwhelm your beautiful orchestration, but it sounds very minimal. It almost sounds like in a different ‘space’ from the orchestration too. Maybe if you put some reverb on the drum kit so it matches the orchestra ambience more, and boosted the drum kit volume just a bit, it would fit in without being too dry and too out front?
Agree about the drums being too quiet compared to the orchestral instruments. But the orchestration sounds better than I’ve done! There’s a few parts where the orchestra feels unpracticed - for example, 1:02 the brass sounds like it unintentionally accented the note a bit harder than it should have. So probably just a tad more tedium in tweaking things is needed. Good work so far, and good luck!
Don’t forget to go heavy on the reverb. We are used to hearing orchestras that are recording in big old concert halls or scoring stages, and they all have tons of reverb. Samples sound way more natural when they have a good amount of reverb on them (as long as the reverb sounds right).
I’d also watch the panning of stuff. It’s ok to pan close mics a bit to match where they need to be on stage, but make sure the reverb isn’t panned as well, otherwise it ends up sounding like everyone is in a different room.
And yes, those drums are super quiet.
Which library are you using?
Hey…I would say take a look at your attack and release times for the samples. Look at where you can make the sounds a little less ‘snatched’. Probably add a little sustain there as well as the reverb that the guys are talking about. Drums for sure could come up.
Think about the movement also - it seems a little quantized to me and we all know that real orchestras are not so disciplined!!! Think about the swell and swing.
@Stan_Halen Thanks for commenting. Yes you may have heard this before somewhere! Good point about the drums, I added a new version above, changed the patch and added reverb, brought it up a bit.
@m24p Thanks for the help, good to see you back on IRD! You posted a great Nightranger cover a while back, how’s your band doing?
I added a new version above and tweaked the brass parts and brought up the drums, good suggestions! Yeah, the audio library thing is a PITA.
@bozmillar Thanks for the help here. I’ve added a new version with more reverb and drums; getting everybody in the same room is hard!
I’m using East West Hollywood Strings, Brass, Woodwinds and Orchestral Percussion and Solo Violin from the Composer Cloud thing.
@tolo Thanks for the good advice here, welcome to IRD! I’ve posted a new version above. I’ve adjusted attack times on the solo violin and flute, brought up the drums and reverb as you mentioned…
I’ve already drawn curves for velocity and mod wheel on most of the patches and I’ve made several small tempo changes and some volume automation as well. This all comes out of a Sibelius score, I don’t play keyboard well enough to play it in and Midi guitar just doesn’t work very well, so I don’t know of any good way to “humanize” so many parts, any suggestions on that?
One thing I notice right away is that it doesn’t sound like a cohesive orchestra. The flute sounds like it’s right in front of my face. I would say that you probably still need more reverb. And to think of the relative loudness of each instrument in person and try to exemplify that a little more. The width feels strange to me as well. I would try to pan the instruments to where they’d be in an orchestra, instead of maybe doing it arbitrarily based on which instruments you think are most important at the time?
Keep in mind I know next to nothing about orchestras–just my thoughts after listening a few times.
I would start by using the default sounds. It sounds like you used only the close mics on this and then panned them around. That will almost never give you an authentic orchestra sound. I know I’ve heard very realistic stuff come from EW. I’ve never used it myself, but I would assume that the default settings when you open up an instrument should sound pretty good. I’d stick to those at first.
What DAW are you using?
I think there are three things you need to implement to make this sound better.
The first is a “reverb strategy” that uses group channels, such as “strings rear” that collects all string that sit in the back of the room… I use the Cubase REV impulse reverb to “sort the distances”. You’d then have groups like “string mid,” “brass mid” and so forth to sort the distance - which is achieved by selecting the right reverbs, basically the balance of early reflections and room reverberation - impulse reverbs work great here. You then have to pan the instruments individually also…
The second is you really have to understand “divisi” - which ties in to the stuff above. There are many instruments, whether they are violins, violas and cells - or, trumpets, horns, and tubas - used in an orchestra to make a cohesive and organic sound… unless it’s specifically a solo part you never have one instrument making up a theme or melody… you then also vary how a melody is implemented over time… it can often be nice to have instruments “swapping place” - letting the cellos play the higher notes while the violins play the lower notes, for instance.
And finally the dynamics… there’s a lot of work involved with getting the CC values and volumes “right” - once the notes were sorted for this track, it still took me TWO WEEKS to get this one to here:
I removed the vocals from this one and remixed it - there are still parts that do not sound right in terms of the dynamics and mixing… but you’ll be able to hear how I try to make it all dynamic, variations and melodies “moving around” in the space…
Hi @Cristina thank you for taking the time to help here. Your points are well taken I think. Setting the space is very challenging (among other things!). I’ve posted above a version with default settings for pan and reverb from the East West library. Perhaps this is a better starting point to get a more realistic setting.
@bozmillar thanks for hanging in to help here. I’ve posted a version above with EW default settings for pan and reverb (contained in each instance of the EW player). I still have my own EQ, CC curves and keyswitching on most of the instruments. I have Reaper’s limiter on the 2 buss to control the cymbal crashes but no extra reverb there. Maybe this will help with positioning things.
The EW Gold libraries offer only one mic position, usually “mid” and no divisi settings.
Yes EW is certainly capable of good sound, I don’t want to buy anything else until I get what I can out of it.
@Sven Thanks for commenting and attaching your tracks, they are very impressive. I think they are well worth the time you have spent on them.
I am using Reaper. I have posted a version of my track above with the default reverb and pan settings from the East West library to show my starting point hopefully.
I think your method of multiple reverb instances to group instruments would be a good tool and I will try that.
East West Gold libraries don’t offer divisi or different mic positions. I have kept this orchestra and arrangement fairly simple to try and learn the basics. I have worked with the CC values and keyswitching for these tracks and I’m sure more can be done there.
In that case you’ll just have to finagle the divisi yourself, with a bit of sly panning…
ok, I think we need to take a couple steps back here. I want to start off by saying that orchestrating is not easy. It took me years to get to the point where I could call myself mediocre at best. Add the fact that not all sample libraries do everything well, orchestrating with samples is sort of like walking a tightrope while people are throwing rocks at you from all directions. You have to be good at a lot of unrelated things to make it work. You have to be good at composing, orchestrating, programming and knowing your library to know what it can and can’t do. It’s hard, and it’s frustrating, but I think it can be less frustrating if you take a step back and do everything in the right order.
That said, I think the biggest issue with this is the orchestration. It sounds like orchestration plan was to try a million things then start taking stuff out until it wasn’t too cluttered. It sounds like for strings, you are only using violins 1 and bass. No cello, viola or 2nd violins? It makes the strings sound very detached and thin.
On the intro where you have the flute doing its thing and you have that other instrument coming in and playing the same note for about 1 second (14 second mark) is very jarring.
The drums: Are you using the orchestral snare and a standard drum kit kick?
It sounds like you took EDM style midi loops and arps and tried to apply it directly to orchestra samples. That can work as a writing tool, but for a final product, I think you really need to figure out how to translate the feel into a realistic performance.
I think it really helps to study up and practice very short “coloring” exercises. Say you want to learn how to a proper crescendo. Just create a short piece that is just for practice and try different instrument combinations to see what works and what doesn’t, and how each instrument effects the feel. Orchestrating is like having a thousand piece puzzle and figuring out which pieces can go together to create specific feelings. Most combinations don’t work, and many of the combinations that do work, only work in certain situations. The more you can build up your library of working textures, the easier it is to write a song without worrying about whether you can translate the feeling into actual sound.
also, I should mention that I went back and listened to the original version that you posted in an old thread. That version sounded way better than this one. It needed quite a bit of work, but I think it was a lot closer to the mark than this.
Good suggestion Boz, I’ll do that, thanks.
Hi guy I don’t know crap about this sort of thing. My gut feels like the whole track should be big time slowed down and completely lose the drums??? But then again I don’t think like most. ha ha Great minds here on this forum. Listen to them:)