Orchestral Strings Sample Library
Akai compatible version (3 CD set)
I've been working with sampled string sounds for over 20 years now, and after several sessions of working with the Garritan Orchestral Strings Sample Library, I think that this meticulously crafted set of samples are the best string samples I've ever loaded into my samplers. Garritan Orchestral Strings is a valuable working composer's companion. It is ready to go straight out of the box. The 3-CDROM package is a comprehensive, professional collection of orchestral strings, which a standard workstation or smaller library could never replicate.
The process of creating an orchestral score from scratch can be daunting to say the least. Using synthesized waveforms or samples to produce a convincing replica of an orchestral recording can be very challenging. These samples as a collective whole, are quite pastoral. They translate well to any application, whether you are writing out parts for a live orchestra or are composing a chamber ensemble for a film score.
The first disc is dedicated to violins and violas. The violins and violas represented here are really outstanding. I haven't heard anything that could compare to these samples from any other vendors. They translate well if you are writing out parts for a live orchestra, i.e. 3 violas really do sound like 3 violas. The instrument lists for the recordings read like a who's who list of the world's most rare instruments. For instance, in the violin section there are two Stradivari dating back to the early seventeen hundreds as well as instruments by Guarneri, Gaglian, Klotz, etc. etc. An outstanding representation of master instrument builders. This violin and viola set is most convincing, touting an intimate and natural sound not found in other contemporary orchestral string libraries. The timbres of the sampled instruments lend a truly distinctive characteristic that will be appreciated by many an audio professional. The recordings are clean and crisp. The natural reverberant ambiance of the recording space (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on West 65th Street in New York) remains on the samples, giving them a more lively resonant sound. The sound of that hall is quite magnificent.
Disc Two, Cellos and Double Basses, was my favorite disc to work with. The basses in particular stand out in this set; they are very rich and sound impressively ominous. The key word here is natural. There are loads of well executed articulations and effects just waiting to be used. A film composer colleague in L.A. who owns most of the current orchestral libraries tells me he returns again and again to this set of string samples for his main string section sounds, because of their realistic sound, comprehensive articulations, and outstanding performance features. I agree wholeheartedly.
Disc Three is comprised of full string orchestras, plus Chicken Systems well known "musical software Swiss-Army knife" called Translator. Although only the PC version of Translator is on the disc, the MAC version can be downloaded from the Garritan website or at http://www.chickensys.com/translator/download.html. I already own the full Mac version, and it has been a real staple in my studio setup. The version on disc three is specifically designed to translate the AKAI S3000 format of the three disc set into any AKAI-compatible supported format, which includes most samplers produced by Emu/Ensoniq and the Kurzweil 2500/2600 with OS 3.2.
After experimenting with the full orchestra disc for a while, I felt as though I was listening to a live orchestra, and not sampled strings. This is really the benchmark of an excellent sample library. The samples are meticulously recorded, with a beautiful expressive quality, as well as offering a whole host of unique and useful performance variations.
In summary, this is an amazing orchestral sample library offering extremely realistic sounds, comprehensive articulations, and outstanding programming/performance features for the price. The set is programmed in a such a logical and easy to understand manner, that even a novice will find working with these samples straightforward and easy to comprehend. This collection has excellent sound quality with a lot of flexibility and playability, thanks to some great programming. Garritan also offers excellent customer support. Purchasers of this collection can upgrade to the jumbo GigaSampler version (16 CD-ROMs or 2 DVDs) for a special reduced price. Outstanding documentation is also provided via the accompanying 24 page manual, as well as text and PDF files included on the third disc. Highly recommended!
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