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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=151kAmvDA7A&t=718s 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!

Comments

  • edited November 25

    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 ?

    -Michael

  • 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 25

    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.

    -Michael

  • edited November 25

    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.

    -Michael

  • 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 25

    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

  • 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 26

    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 ....

    -Michael

  • edited November 26

    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.

    -Michael

  • 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 1

    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

  • 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.

    -Michael

  • 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.

Leave a Comment

Rich Text Editor. To edit a paragraph's style, hit tab to get to the paragraph menu. From there you will be able to pick one style. Nothing defaults to paragraph. An inline formatting menu will show up when you select text. Hit tab to get into that menu. Some elements, such as rich link embeds, images, loading indicators, and error messages may get inserted into the editor. You may navigate to these using the arrow keys inside of the editor and delete them with the delete or backspace key.