Questions about SM Solo & Ensemble Strings

Hello Sample Modeling team,

I have listened to and watched almost every demo/tutorial about your Solo & Ensemble Strings library that exists on the internet, and I am incredibly impressed by what it is capable of (coming from a violin player with 18 years of experience), and I am therefore seriously considering buying it. Although, before I do, I have some questions that I would like to get answered:

  1. Apparently, there is no direct native solution (yet) for performing sul tasto/sul ponticello, but as stated on the product page, the real time timbral shaping feature is supposed to be able to get you there, or at least in that direction. How close can you get to the real thing? Could you maybe provide a sounding example?
  2. I have noticed that when performing staccato within the ensemle multis, the result tends to give the impression of an unnaturally tight section in terms of timing. Is there any way to achieve a more "loose" sound for further realism? If not natively, maybe by some kind of workaround e.g. tweaking the settings of the four kontakt instruments of the multi independently and ignoring the yellow sync warning?
  3. In the demos, especially in the solo instruments, all the legato transitions sound quite "sluggish", like you would apply or release your left hand fingers quite slow onto/off the fingerboard, or rather like a subtle glissando between all the notes, which is not very realistic. Is there any way to tweak these transitions to make them more immediate? (Watching "Samplemodeling Strings" by "Dmitry Goryuk" at by watching the field indicating the currently triggered playing technique I made sure that I did not judge the portamentos by accident, which btw sound amazing.)

Thanks in advance, and once again, I want to point out that I think that your product is really impressive!

All the best!


  • edited November 2019

    Re 2):

    I recently programmed a Midi "Filter" plugin, that provides a "humanized" random value (as a 14 bit CC). The "Humanization" can be tweaked by several parameters. Same can be used to modulate the "time" parameter of a Midi delay plugin (in fact I recently also provided a Midi delay plugin using the same technology.)

    The pluguins are done as "JSFX" which are imideately available in reaper, and usable in other DAWs via the free "ReasPlugs" product by Cockos.

    Re 3):

    What else is "Legato" supposed to be ?


  • Thanks for your reply Michael!

    2.) Wouldn’t that apply a similar amount of offset to all the string players within the same section? I’m looking for some way of offsetting the timing differently for each individual string player within the section. (Btw, I use Reaper myself and I love the JSFX plugins. :) )

    3.) Not sure what you’re referring to. What I mean is that I would like to control the speed of the transition from one note to another, and make the transitions faster than the ones heard in the demos.

  • edited November 2019

    2): you would need an instance of the "fluctuation" plugin and the Midi delay plugin for each instrument in the set. In Reaper you also can use an instance of the delay plugin to impose a negative delay prior to routing the midi stream to instances that impose the modulated positive delay to get an average delay of zero,

    3): AFAIU, the legato transition speed by default is controlled by the velocity of the second note in a legato transition.


  • edited November 2019

    2) I am not sure that you understand what I mean. I’ll try to be more specific:

    Within the product, there are both solo instruments and ensembles (consult the SM Solo & Ensemble Strings manual for details). Each ensemble consists of a so called “multi”, containing four so called “instruments” (consult the Kontakt manual for further information about their terminology). In this case, a multi, which controls all the virtual string musicians within the loaded ensemble, is controlled by a SINGLE MIDI-channel, so there is no way to send individual MIDI data to the different virtual string musicians separately. Therefore, I would like to know if there is any way to make the virtual string ensemble, controlled by this single MIDI channel, sounding less precise in terms of timing.

    3) That is also how I understand it. Although, the demos that I have listened to have, IMO, only been demonstrating a very slow and sluggish kind of normal legato transitions (which there has been proof of visually that they are not portamentos), so I’m curious whether a more IMO naturally sounding legato is possible to achieve. In other words: does the fastest possible legato transition sound realistic enough?

  • 2): supposedly you would need to atŕrange the voices of the multi in a way that each has a separate Midi channel.


  • Yeah, that would be a reasonable assumption, only if the manual didn’t say that the instruments wouldn’t work properly when treated independently. But maybe it says so only because the author wants us to be cautious? I don’t know, and I wouldn’t want to take the risk if I wouldn’t have to.

  • edited November 2019

    After loading the ensemble in Kontakt you can change the Midi channel of each instrument (which originally is "omni") without needing to impose any additional "separation".

    I did not check what the result of this action is, but I don't assume any problems.


  • Michael, do you have the ability to check? If so, I would very much appreciate it if you would do it and then tell me how it turned out. :)

  • edited November 2019

    OK. But I only can check with Reaper, so no guarantee that it's the same with other DAWs. E. g. I don't know if other DAWs can do negative Midi delay (i.e. applying track PDC to Midi) .

    It's on my list ....


  • edited November 2019

    Astonishingly this does not seem to work.

    Sending on Midi channel 1:

    Assigning all voices to channel 1 (instead of omni) -> works as expected

    Assigning Midi channel 2 and 3 to voice #2 and #3 -> works as expected: theses voices get mute

    Assigning a Midi channel other than one to voice #4 -> both voice 1 and 4 get mute

    No Idea why that is this way.

    It might work better if the voices in question get delayed midi messages instead of none at all, but the outcome is rather questionable, hence I did not try that.

    My recommendation for your issue is to use two instances of the ensemble (with different midi channel in either one or two Kontakt instances) and do the "humanized delay" with both Midi channels If you find that eight instruments is too much you can switch off parts of them by assigning to yet another midi channel.

    Anyway the sound of the Violin ensemble is just amazing. I did not try this, as up til now I only use the "Strings" for love playing solo parts with the Seaboard Rise.


  • Very interesting! Then it’s confirmed; sending different MIDI data to different instruments breaks the sound altogether. Thanks so much for taking your time investigating this! :) Perhaps a “tightness” feature would come in handy for future updates then. ;)

    Now, there is only 1. and 3. left to be answered. :)

  • Hi Colorin,

    re 3) according to the documentation, the note-on attack controller (CC26) is used to change the attack of individual notes but also legato duration, between 50% and 200% of the default. If you wanted to, I suppose you could program this only for legato and change to a different value during normal attacks.

  • edited December 2019

    Thanks for your comment jast! I have now taken a look at the manual and I noticed this:

    "The duration of legato/portamento ranges from 30 msec to about 1 sec., depending on the velocity of the overlapped note, the played interval and CC26."

    Since CC26 changes the legato duration between 50% and 200%, does this mean that the shortest possible legato transition has a duration of 15 msec?

  • Did you ever try live playing the sound with a keyboard and testing out the effect of the velocity of the second not in a legato transfer ?

    I do this with a lot of sounds inclusing the SM Strings, the SM Trumpet, the AM Cello and the AM Flute and find that controlling the Legato transition that way (with standard settings of the sound engine) works great and makes the most important part of the natuiralism that can be achieved by these sounds.


  • Michael, I have still not bought the product (yet), so no. Although, I experimented with the glide time with another software synth and auditioned the transition at both 30 msec and 15 msec and I imagine it could sound convincing at 15 msec, but of course, I can't know unless I hear the real thing.

  • With a physical modeling or a "Sample Modeling" sound engine, the transition is not (just) a glide, but the way the sound vibration transforms from one note to another. e.g. shifting a valve, closing/opening a hole, pressing/releasing a string or moving a finger. Regarding strings, the engine decides from multiple circumstances if a finger is pressed or released or moved or another string is activated. The way and the speed of that transition is determined by velocity and CC26 and other things.


  • That much I understand, and listening to the demos it is also clearly audible that the legato transitions are more than simply a “glide” in this product. Yet, there is still room for improvement, and as I mentioned, I think a higher transition speed than the one heard in the demos would be beneficial to the realism.

  • Hello, I find the "perfect timing" a little annoying as well. I wrote on Samplemodeling's facebook and they replied that there IS a delaying algorithm and it should be randomizing the transitions and attacks up to 80 ms. Well, I don't hear it. Maybe there will be an update fixing this, but for now I solve it by writing one part for ensemble violins and on top of that I put the same part played by Solo violin and randomize the midi of both to maximum level. + shift the solo a little before the ensemble. Works well and sound incredibly realistic, but it's much more work.

    Also, as I hear it, it's all bow change legato. I miss slur legato very much! It seems to sound similar with cross-string legato, but still it's not slur. Sometimes I hear a tiny little glide, but it's almost unaudible. Quite a problem when I want to do a massive portamento. The audio level is just going down when gliding. But that's not how violin works. If bow action is constant (which is determined by CC11) the volume should be constant as well.

    That's just two itches I've noticed in this otherwise MASSIVE GRAND tool. I still can't believe it was possible to reach this point of realism :) Congratulations!

  • Thanks for the workaround about the tightness of the section! Might incorporate it if I buy the product one day.

    Yeah, the level drops in the demos are bugging me as well. In many cases, a temporary decrease in the dynamics might be beneficial for the phrasing in some cases, but you certainly don't want it all the time. That only gives away the realism.

  • Dear Friends,

    thanks for your appreciation and remarks concerning Samplemodeling Solo & Ensemble Strings. Please let us clarify some crucial, basic points:

    - The ensembles do not consist of "instruments". We call it "modules". Due to some limitations of Kontakt we were compelled to split the "engine" creating the ensembles into the four modules that you see when opening a multi. But for the above reason one cannot - and one must not - manipulate these modules separately. If one tries, the sound either collapses, or the plugin stops working. So please keep in mind that a multi is an integrated unit.

    - Our ensembles were created and optimized for realism and playability, with the main aim of setting the user free from the heavy work of assembling several solo instruments to simulate an ensemble. Yet, if one prefers to build a small ensemble using solo instruments, this is feasible, driving the instruments using different MIDI channels, settings, reverbs etc. However, please keep in mind that solo instruments loaded "out of the box" without any differentiation, may behave and sound too similar. Apart from this consideration, there are no technical obstacles to this approach.

    - The only point to consider is to use separate Kontakt instances with only one instrument loaded per instance. Opening several instruments in one Kontakt instance should be avoided due to some possible interferences between the instruments.

    - Legato transition time is under player´s control over a wide range. Legato transitions as short as 30 msec, corresponding to the duration of a fast articulation, can be easily obtained by the combination of high velocities and low CC26. Detaché is slightly longer, since it requires inversion of the direction of the bow. Cross-string occurs in virtually no time.   

    - The timing of the "human imperfection" is a very critical setting. Moreover, the delay (dispersion) cannot be set as a single value for any articulation. Slow legato usually implies a larger dispersion than a rythmical repetition in a high tempo. In other words, the dispersion permanently varies, depending on the musical context. The dispersion of our ensembles has been increased in the upcoming free update from about 60 to 90 msec in staccato and legato mode, with some optimizations introduced to cope with different playing techniques, for example decreasing at higher velocities, or when playing pizzicato and col legno.

    We hope you find this information helpful.

    Peter & Giorgio

  • Thank you Peter and Guirgio for the info. When do you anticipate to release the update? Also, is there a way we can modify the randomization settings for timing and pitch? I believe the strings would sound great if they can be pushed into "FX" territory with random pitch and timing, especially during a run or an aleatoric-like sustain.

  • Thanks for the tips and the insights! Context dependent randomization is definitely the way to go. Although, I could also see use cases where some manual control of the dispersion would come in handy.

    Also, what would be the best approach in order to get the impression of sul tasto or sul ponticello?

  • Colorin,

    we are deeply involved in the update of S&E strings. This task turned out to be quite demanding.

    This does not mean that I ignore or neglect your questions. They are very important and will be dealt with ASAP.

    Please forgive me for the delay.


  • No problem, Giorgio. Considering the complexity of the product, it is highly understandable that you need to devote much time to it. I’ll be waiting patiently! :)

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