Okay, so there will be several links here so I’ll try to organize and split it into sections it as best I can and try not to mumble too much I saw on your site that you’ve done wedding photography for several years, I actually write wedding music and http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/promise is one of the only ones I’ve uploaded. The client specified the duration and Disney fairytale style.
Anyone, on with the comparison, I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. Edit; for the links you may want to right click and “open in new tab” because Steinberg didn’t see it useful to set that action as default.
We both have Cubase so no need to discuss that, it’s my choice for working with sample libraries anyway out of the few I’ve tried.
Two of the things that allowed me to even achieve professional sounding mixes were discovering how much difference a good reverb and using it correctly made and also how much difference mastering made to a good, balanced mix.
Now, this first comparison is just showing the difference in clarity of hearing instruments a good reverb used correctly makes. The difference is mainly noticeable anywhere after the break after the first section. You will notice the difference in more detail with a good pair of headphones at a decent volume.
Roomworks SE Reverb: http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/pirate-1-05-rough-some-1/s-2t5f0 This uses just the one reverb over the entire orchestra (which is not how orchestra’s are recorded/mixed in reality) and I have the pre-delay, roomsize, mix dry:wet, and reverb times set exactly the same as when I use my reverb plugin of choice. But you can immediately hear in the busier sections how muddy it makes it sound.
QL Spaces Reverb: http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/pirate-1-05-rough-some/s-Vp8yk This reverb costs more of course, but you can hear the kind of clarity and life it brings even to my rough mix so far. It allows me to use a small soundstage with little reverb like how real recordings are done to give it some life, but then add in a bigger sounding hall (using the South California hall where movie soundtracks are recorded) to give it a bigger hall sound. Oh and also, each section of the orchestra has a different pre-delay. This is important because otherwise it sounds like the orchestra is all sat directly on top of each other, which leads to muddy and unclear sounds due to the reverb sounding so cluttered. In a small studio room recording this doesn’t apply, but the soundstages/studio room reverbs are also very nice.
The quality of this makes a big difference to how good the instruments will sound, but like anything practice and experience using them will yield better results. I wouldn’t normally show the pieces below but it’s all I have to show the different kinds of samples. Bearing in mind, with Microsoft basic sounds there is barely any editing you can do to expression of the instruments. Edirol is just older technology and even if I’d used the CC data to get it as realistic as possible older technology simply can’t compete with the most expensive stuff. It’s just like trying to get a brand new game with state-of-the-art graphics to run on an elderly Pentium 1
Microsoft Synths: http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/02-wendol-town-main-theme/s-MSCMF
Edirol Orchestral (bit of an outdated library now): http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/12-battle-of-the-gods/s-I5CTm
EWQL Hollywood Strings (just strings, rest are other libraries by EWQL company): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvrn3E5DByE This was the very first piece I wrote when I bought this string library. So experience with getting used to the libraries is essential, but if you compare the sound of the strings from this to the wedding piece at the start of the post there is a big difference in the sound because I was more experienced when I wrote that. So practice of course matters, but you can only get as good a sound out of the libraries as the technology allows. I’m actually redoing this with better arranged strings, as well as production quality for more realistic sounding instruments for a animation album of production music.
EWQL Hollywood Strings, Hollywood Brass, Silk, Stormdrum 2, Voices of Passion: http://soundcloud.com/jonathan-priest/elucidation Just to show a more recent piece, although I’m not using the optimal microphone positions for the best sound because my computer would die. With a more expensive computer the instruments could all sound more realistic because they are pretty demanding on resources and I can’t use enough expression without encountering problems. A new soundcard and solid state drives would allow me to load all instruments at maximum quality and expressiveness/realism though.
These products I’m using in the latest one are all on a -50% off deal atm, and if you buy 7 products at once in the ‘complete composers collection’ you get a huge price reduction too, like $1000 instead of paying $3000 that they’d cost if you bought them individually. http://www.soundsonline-europe.com/ They also have video tutorials explaining a bit about the products down the right hand side and how to use them so you have an idea of what it is you’re getting.
There are similar competing products for all the different instruments, so you’d need to hear music/demo tracks using them to decide which you like the sound of the most. But really, you get what you pay for.
If you want electronic sounds for dance stuff, I hope someone else can answer that well because I’d like some too
I hope that gives a little insight into the sample libraries Nerdle.