Just a generell thread to discuss and share ideas of how to use synthesizers with the virtual Orchestra.
I usally use a deep noise patch with a fast attack and a slow release, some distortion and reverb to make timpanis and bassdrums on special occasiouns even heavier. I got the idea from Jeremy Soule's Guild Wars Score, it is pretty much the first tone in that video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUe64FtLs3U I'm not sure if he even uses a synth there or just has made the timpani really heavy, but thats how i do it.
Also i occaisnily use pure Sine Waves to beafen up the bass a bit. It's not loud enough to be distinguished, but you can hear it when it's left out.
To be perfectly honest I find VSCO 2 CE a bit difficult to work with -- not due to any fault of the library itself, but because I haven't done a lot of composing and arranging for smaller ensembles. It kind of makes me feel like everything I know is wrong. However, I was so impressed and inspired by listening to the VSCO 2 contest submissions that I decided to sit down and try to figure out what this library can do (as it clearly isn't suited for my normal orchestral stuff). Here's the result.
I've been working on a project for the last couple of months and it is the first time it put me into the mysterious realm of mixing and mastering. Mastering as it turns out is pretty weird and complicated science and I feel pretty confident, that the stuff i make right now will probably make me cringe in a year.
To get more training in it and I wanted to ask you people for mixes from you, that are unmastered on which i can train a bit. I will also provide mixes after I the project I'm providing music too is released. Before I can't release any material from it through a legal.
It would be interresting to me and maybe also other people if they encounter different problems in slightly different mixing and music styles. (And also maybe, if I encounter less problems with a certain mix, I would recognize what sets that mix apart from my mix and what is causing the problems in my mix. I'm hoping for learning a lot of stuff). My other idea would have been using older Recordings of classical music, since there are not that compressed and loud, so it might be okay to put some additional mastering on me (every professional mastering enginier will probably kill my for that statement, just to be clear, mastering is not just about making it as compressed and loud as possible).
What i learned so far:
Since Mastering for Orchestra is such a specific field i had trouble finding a lot of good resources for specifcly that purpose. However i found one video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9u7f0Ux0VE It's also about mixing and he doesn't talk that much a about mastering, but it gave me a starting point and it might give you one too. By the way, if there are any good resources on mastering and also mixing for the VO that i missed, please send me that stuff!
My plugin chain does look like this in generell:
Only the effects with a check are effecting the sound for anyone unfamiliar with reaper. Also Span is also not effecting the sound, it is just a spectrum analyzer. The settings on my plugings look like this:
1. The Eq serves marely as low cut. As you can see i didn't but it at 20k, which i heard is what you are usally supposed to do. However i recognized in Jeremy Soule mixes, that they go way deeper and this guy knows what he's doing, so I'm trying to follow that. Still i wanted to tame to sound a bit.
I'm pretty sure your DAW must have an Eq, if you don't got one, you'll find the one i'm using for free here, along with some other nifty plugins: http://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/
2. Next in line are three compressors. If you have absolutely no Idea about compressors work, Wickiemedia has a pretty good tutorial series, that is pretty easy to watch on youtube, here is the first part https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91qs3fux5HY I set the compressors so that the threshold barely touches the peaks. Also I set the Attack pretty slow (I noticed that around 90ms seems to worked for most tracks) as well as a fast release (here i used from 10 to 20 ms). Reason for that, is that I still wanna keep dynamics in the tracks. The slower attack then doesn't affect all the rising and falling in dynamics but more the just makes everything a bit smoother. I use ReaComp (which is also in the reaplugs), because it sounds pretty transparent and doesn't colour the sound too much. I haven't quit figured out what "Auto-make up" does, but i feel it colours the sound a bit, so i rather just adjust the makeup gain on every compressor by raising the wet signal output about 1 or 2 db.
I also set the ratios rather low around 2:1 or even lower. On some instances i use knee size, while i gotta be honest, while knowing what it does in theory, it doesn't really seem to much to the sound (maybe because I also do very low amounts of gain reduction?).
3. After that i use Ferric TDS a supercool free tape saturation plugin, that is sadly only available as 32x plugin. You can find it here https://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/downloads/
I'm still not sure as in how it works, I mainly use it to add harmonics and also some saturation in some circumstances (as the one here). It kinda adds some sparkle to the sound when you add harmonics and it sounds overall richer. It also seems to add some kind of compression.
I also set the input on this plugin slightly lower, because i mainly wanna have the colour of this plugin, but not so much the volume, so i don't lose too much headroom.
4. Too add even more sparkle i use the free luftikus vst, which is an eq plugin, that can be found here: https://www.kvraudio.com/product/luftikus-by-lkjb I mainly use the High Boost and boost around 20k with 3 db. I also cut some off the higher mids at 640 hz and also add a bit at 2.5k.
Luftikus seems to be a good choice if you wanna have more sparkle in your mix, which is something that really pleases my taste, but i recognized that for example Jeremy Soule in the Guild Wars Prophecies Ost doesn't seem to have lot going on there, noticed similar things in Zelda TP Ost, so it might just be me.
5. Before the limiter i use a soft clipper to get a bit of a boost. I actually use this plugin to increase dynamics by having an automation track for its Wetness on the mastertrack, which looks something like this:
In the louder parts i want to be louder and more in your face it gets more wet and the other way around, pretty easy. While i don't set the clipper pretty high, around 1 to 2 db as a Volume Boost it is still accentuating everything a bit.
Though you gotta be careful with that concept a bit, in some circumstances i got weird artifacts with to fast incrising of the wetness (not really in this one so much as you can see, how far i quickly i pushed it).
6. At last the Limiter. I like to use the JS Limiter that comes with reaper because it seems to be pretty transparent. I usally don't set the threshold really low, just around -2,4db so it really affects more the higher peaks. I haven't totally figured out how limiters work so far, and as long as i don't get any weird artifacts i'm happy. I also set the celling most of the time around -0,3db. I keep the rest at the default settings.
Limiters are still kinda magical to me as in how they work and what causes artifacts, so i don't try to push the track to hard through them. Also it's orchestral music, it doesn't have to be as loud as Metal or hip-hop. People can still turn on there volume as long as the track sounds good. Can't do that when the track is wrecked.
Alright, if someone thinks i'm defently doing everything about mastering wrong and I am using these plugins in a alarming blasphemous way let me know. I gotta learn a lot, so don't hesitate to correct me.
If you got any more tips on mastering please also let me know and write them here. The Internet is pretty sparse in VO Mastering so far and I'm sure there are some more experienced people on this board.
I hope this is helpful to some people and feel free to add and correct. And once again i ask you for unmastered tracks for practicing purposes. Thanks a lot!
Have fun mastering!
I hope I don't fall from grace with mastering engineers for putting this into the Mixing-Category, but i didn't found anything more fitting.
I'm slightly deadlocked when it comes to the practical realization of proper round-robin writing. A simple compilation album might be an easier concept for a joint project.
The idea is that everyone interested writes a tune around a central concept.
Tavern music is one example of such a concept. To keep it simple, we could keep the concept of a tavern rather loosely defined, so things like 19th century saloons and 22nd century cyberrunner joints wouldn't be off the table, along with inns named after dragons of a particular color, of course.
Distribution terms would be something that needs a consensus. My suggestion would be CC license, to keep things simple. However, if someone has ideas for a better way of doing it, I'd love to hear about it.
Other than that, things would be fairly free for everyone taking part.
When talking about free plugins, many people have asked me why I don't recommend (or even seem to dislike) certain "obvious" freebies like the Variety of Sound plugs etc. The reason is of course that they're 32 bit (x86) only. I know that this might seem trivial to a lot of people -- the most common counterargument I've seen is "but I'm on an 32 bit system and they work fine", the second most common is "they run fine on my x64 system using an x86 host". Right. But...
The problem is, 32 bit systems are going the way of the dodo and it's been a long time coming. Even though I personally didn't move to x64 until 2010, I got my first x64-capable processor as early as 2005 (and it wasn't even a fancy bleeding edge one) so the hardware has been there for a loooong time. The big and final transition to x64 will be happening within the next few years and the sooner you manage to phase out as much of your 32 bit stuff as possible, the less problems you will face when that change finally comes. Right now Windows and its plethora of DAW's and other software has a pretty robust way of dealing with non x64-stuff, for backwards compatibility. We can't expect that to last forever (especially not with the unpredictable dynamic model of Windows 10). Yes, there's a 32 bit version of Windows 10 as well (for now), but I think that one's aimed more at ARM processors and platforms where you wouldn't normally want to run a full-fledged DAW anyway.
So basically... x86 offers NOTHING over x64 and there is NO reason not to start thinking about finding x64 alternatives to whatever x86 plugins you're still using regularly. Sounds a bit alarmist, but just saying. Unless you plan on staying with your Core 2 Duo/2GB/Win XP machine indefinitely... start planning ahead or be prepared for a major shock the day that you find yourself having to move to a new machine.
Last night I had a dream about mingling with people in some kind of afterlife. I kept trying to ask questions about the different fascinating periods of time in which people had lived, but they wouldn't tell me anything because they all wanted to hear about how I lived in a time that I had access to instant correspondence with people around globe.
What a great time to live in, when not only can we play around with virtual orchestration, but also a handful of people around the globe with a very specific interest can find each other and have a friendly dialog.
I've been working on integrating VSCO 2 Pro with my 90's samplers/ROMplers and ended up creating this thing last night. I haven't written music seriously in about a year, so I'm really rusty, and it's pretty inspired by the Age of Empires II score, but I think it's a decent start- https://instaud.io/OWB
I used just the strings from VSCO 2 and the bass/perc from a BOSS DS-330 unit, which is pretty much a stenciled Roland GM ROMpler with some wonderfully cheesy delays and reverbs built-in (I used the pan delay for this track, which is endless fun). It's barely a draft, and I don't know if I'll ever finish it, but it seemed like a cool premise and I want to keep exploring cross-overs.
Next week I'll be getting an Alesis MIDIverb II, the rackmount reverb unit Mattias ID'd as being from the AoE II setup pictures that I hope to incorporate into some of this stuff.
I also did a quick demo with the Mirage only and some effects, I don't know if I shared it- https://instaud.io/LkO