When you are using orchestral instruments in your music, you want it to sound big, and most important of all, you want it to sound real! In order to make a robot in your computer mimic the sounds of dozens of expert human musicians a lot of programming and work is required by companies, as well as many musicians playing different instruments that have to be paid too. This accounts for the big bucks you’re expected to spend in order to get a real sounding robotic orchestra. You can find orchestral libraries that cost thousands of dollars!
If you’re like me, and you’re on a budget, perhaps you’ve considered purchasing a library more reasonably priced, such as UVI’s Orchestral Suite. Since I’ve used it extensively in my own music, I grown to know it quite well, and if you don’t want to hear the biased demos that you find in UVI’s website, you can check how the library sounds in my last work, ‘The Four Seasons‘ and in some songs for ‘Songs of the Forest‘ (Check WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? section below). Let’s get down to the evaluation and the review of this orchestral library.
Quality vs. Price: 4/10
- Advanced programming that make transitions betweeen legato notes in strings more real;
- Mod wheel actually changes the perceived intensity and emotion of the instrument allowing you to program more feeling into your pieces;
- You have both the ensembles and solo versions of strings, brass and most woodwinds;
- Very complete variety of woodwinds including alto flute, bass flute, oboe d’amore and contrabassoon;
- Low CPU consumption;
- Only takes 4.66GB on your hard drive;
- Coolish harp;
- Very complete assortment of instruments featuring also a guitar, harpsichord, organ, celesta, choirs, cymbals, gongs, grand cassa, snares, taiko, timpani, shakers, tamborines, crotales, glockenspiel, marimba, tubular bells, vibraphone and xylophone.
- Glitches in some samples – Some notes of the basses for example have popping sounds which ruin a song. I’ve contacted them explaining this issue and they basically said it’s just how it is;
- Glitches in UVI Workstation – Sometimes it just crashes and keeps playing one of the notes of the samples, and sometimes increases the volume to +6dB on the in-built mixer without explanation. Oh, and it also crashes often;
- Poor recordings lacking depth – Specially the strings are super harsh and have too much on the high frequencies which you have to cut with eq and try to make into something acceptable. Other samples sound thin, noisy or as if you were hearing them out of a cassete.
- This library has a bit of a shrilling feel to it. I find myself having to roll out on 1k and 2k all the time because my ears get super tired with this library. It’s like from scale 1-10 of intensity you can only use 5-8.
- Although some of the instruments have a lot of articulations, others have almost none which limits what you can achieve.
For example violins ensemble have 17 different articulations but solo violin only has 4. It’s a shame that this library makes available solo instruments in adition to the ensembles, but then limit what you can do with them. In fact most instruments have only 4, 3 or even 2 articulations. For example oboes and clarinets ensemble only have sustain and staccato. It’s not much, and I feel that stuffing it with more instruments but no articulations was a way UVI found to increase the library’s market value.
- There is no piano, nor english horns ensemble nor bassoons ensemble;
- Timpani very limited;
- Choirs and guitar amongst others sound super midi.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
Here is some of my music where I’ve used UVI’s Orchestral Suite. Only the instruments specified are the ones from this Orchestral Library. I’ve also used other libraries.
Check the Orchestral Suite solo strings in ‘Other Summers‘;
Check the Orchestral Suite harp in ‘The Clearing‘;
Check the Orchestral Suite solo viola and contra bassoon in ‘The Wind‘;
Check the Orchestral Suite ‘French Horns’ in ‘Autumn Wind‘;
Check the Orchestral Suite solo cello, strings ensemble and bassoon and countrabasson with french horns in ‘Winter Cold‘;
Check the Orchestral Suite solo violins run ups in ‘Rainburn‘. The rest of the song has a blend of instruments from different libraries but most of the strings sounds are from other patches
Check the Orchestral Suite children choirs in ‘Pink Spring Swing‘.
Regarding realism the strongest point going on for UVI‘s library is that unlike many of the budget orchestral libraries out there, when you use the mod wheel, it doesn’t just increase the volume of the sample played, but it actually changes the intensity and character of the instrument being played. For example, if I’m playing the violin, I won’t play each note with the same intensity and the same vibrato accross its whole duration. I’ll perhaps start a long note quieter and then build up the volume, pushing the intensity and making the note grittier, or maybe I’ll start it off strong and then make it go out really quiet. These changes of vibrato and intensity on the same note is what breathes emotion into an instrument and what makes our ears perceive the sound as coming from a real instrument. Although some libraries just make that one recorded, or one sampled note louder or lower in volume, more sophisticated libraries, such as Orchestral Suite feature several layers of the same note played in the same instrument and as you push the modwheel up and down, the samples transitions between samples making it sound more emotional and real.
Even though the programming is there, the big problem is that the samples don’t match up to what it could accomplish. Some of the samples are poorly recorded, and the articulations made available lack. I used this library to double other libraries, but the truth is that it’s only sample library I own where I can use the modwheel to manipulate the emotion of solo strings in my own way, so I’ve used it to write things for strings quintets.
Strings are too thin and airy, but you can make it emotional with good use of the moodwheel and programming. The basses suck because of the glitches in the samples, and violins are a bit too shrilling because of they’ve pushed the hf so much, but the good thing about strings ensembles in this orchestra is that they have many articulations.
Woodwinds can be mostly used for simple long simple musical phrases. This library won’t let you do anything detailed that sounds great with woodwinds since it lacks in the articulations. Clarinets and Oboes only have sustain and staccato to choose from.
Brass is there with it’s characteristc imperfections which make brass into brass but it lacks power and these imperfections are too exagerated. I find myself having to pile the solo samples, on top of the ensemble ones, on top of another variety of the ensemble ones in order to get any power out of it.
Overall the intensity of the orchestra is pushed too hard which limits you for quieter and less emotional moments in your music. It’s as if in a scale from 1 to 10 in emotion this orchestra only lets you play between 5 to 8. There is no 9 or 10 because if you push the intensity too hard than it’s unbearably tiring and irritatingly noisy.
Options offered for percussion articulation wise are quite limited as well, and I had to use other libraries that had samples not so shallowly recorded and that had more possibilites in the timpani.
The interface is quite cool in its appearance with pictures of all the instruments available, it features the choice of simulating the legato, or portamento and what degree you can do it to, it has an expression tab for you to control how the sound builds up and it has a compressor, an eq and a reverb. Honestly, the only part of the interface I’ve played around with was the performance and expression one and did all my eq and compressing out of the station because the eq, comp and reverb options in UVI Workstation offer little control over how you shape the sound. Although it looks cool, and it does offer flexibility on how the expression of your sound, the glitches irritate me a little bit. Sometimes when you play it on your DAW, an instrument it will get stuck on one one and you have to go open the station and click on the stop button other wise it will go on playing forever. Other times, inexplicably, the UVI Workstation will increase the volume of the instrument on the mixing channels of the program.
QUALITY vs PRICE
The greatest thing about this library is that have percussion, ensembles and solos, harp and everything you need to create your orchestral compositions. It is priced at 200USD but you can buy it at 150USD when UVI launches promotions for Orchestral Suite. The thing is that with a hundred and something more bucks you can buy Hollywood Orchestra Gold of Eastwest when it’s in promotion, and every other month, Eastwest launches promotions for it. Now, that is a great sounding library. My advice for you is to save up those extra bucks and buy Eastwest if you can live without solo strings and if you can get piano and harp elsewhere.
Easy-peasy! Absolutely no problem installing the library.