Thoughts about Vienna Ensemble Pro 7

I think I might have to move my Nuendo template into Vienna Ensemble Pro again. And this information might be interesting to others.

The reason is that I find Nuendo gets slower the bigger the session file is, the slower the (auto) saving gets and also I find it seem to cause more crashes (maybe it’s the autosave).
Right now my Nuendo template is approx. 120 mb when “empty”. It contains only my orchestral instruments. And I could probably move most of those to VEP without it annoying my workflow too much. And all those instruments could easily still be with returns on each individual instrument.

So I just did some quick tests on what makes a Nuendo project file size grow. So here’s some tests:

  1. If we load 5 Kontakt instruments with a reasonably complex instrument (CSS 1st Violins) we end with a session file thats approx. 10.6 mb
  2. If we load 1 VEP session with 5 same instruments + 5 stereo returns + 5 midi tracks, we are at 14.3 mb.
  3. BUT if we decouple* that session in Nuendo, that Nuendo session shrinks to 494 kb :flushed:

If we take the same test as above but with 128 instruments, we get:

  1. 128 Kontakt instruments with a complex instrument we end up at 266 mb.
    — That session takes approx. 20 seconds to save**
    — And it takes approx. 2 min 20 sec to open :unamused:
  2. 1 VEP session with 128 Kontakt Instruments + 128 stereo returns + 128 midi tracks then we are at 358 mb!!
    — That session takes approx. 19 seconds to save.
    — That session takes approx. 2 min 10 seconds to open.
  3. BUT if we decouple VEP in Nuendo, the Nuendo session is reduced to approx. 6.1 mb
    — That session saves in a split second.
    — That session takes approx. 6 seconds to open.

Nuendo saving times are for sure scaled with the size of the project file!

Now if we save a VEP session with 128 complex Kontakt instruments as a separate file, it takes up approx. 350 mb.
So it is clear that it is the same data that is saved inside our Nuendo session when we are not decoupled, eg. it takes up the 358 mb instead of 6 mb.
— Such a big VEP file takes approx. 1 min 45 sec to open, but can be done parallel to opening your daw. And it stays open if you change project.

Now just to look at some general numbers to get an idea how much space the different elements take up, relative to the above:

  • A midi note adds approx. 0.1 kb for your session.
  • A midi track adds about 7kb to your session.
  • An empty Kontakt track adds about 90kb to your session.
  • An empty VEP track with 1 stereo return adds about 100kb to your session.
  • A stereo return in VEP adds approx. 38 kb.

(didn’t make any test on audio tracks/files, sorry)

So if we just look at what MIDI notes can take up. If we take our session with 128 (midi/instrument) tracks and a midi region on each track with 500 notes inside it. Then we have 500x128 notes in the session, which add up approx. 7mb to the overall session file.
I believe CC data is the same, so it might actually make our session smaller with the new simplified CC record mode in Cubendo 13.

A 30 minute animation project for me can add around 50-90mb to a session file from audio tracks, project specific tracks, MIDI and audio files etc. This puts me at 170-100mb which takes 11-15 seconds to save :sweat:.

So I think you can actually conclude that if you build a VEP template that you don’t change while you’re writing on a project and you work with it decoupled, then there is a fairly big advantage working with VEP, since your Cubendo session save/autosave will be SO much faster (and may not cause crashes as I suspect). And it’s also much faster to open and close projects, which might also crash less often. You only have to deal with the little bit extra file handling.

AND you could always when you finish a project, save it with the VEP session(s) not decoupled, which means that you will have all the data from those VEP sessions saved directly in your session file, and available to open on a later stage without having to find the correct VEP file.

DAWS probably save track data differently and varies how much they can “compress” the information needed to know exactly which track, instrument, settings etc are on it. But I believe there’s a limit to this, so therefore I think the findings above will translate to other DAWs in conjunction with VEP.

I hope this might have been interesting/helpful to you, Jesper

*When you decouple a VEP session, your DAW session will not save whatever data is inside the VEP session. Also when you open your DAW session the decoupled VEP session is also not loaded automatically. So if you make change inside your decoupled VEP session, that data will not be saved unless you save a separate VEP file that you then open next time.

**The saving/loading times are on a MacBook Pro M1 Max using the fast internal drive, so it might be even worse if you use external drives etc…