The double-edged sword that is Berlin orchestra

As some of you know, I have recently taken the pain and spent the money on a lot of Berlin libraries. I now have their strings, winds, and brass basic libraries (I don’t have any of the additional stuff, like brass mutes–but I have my eye on it).

I have been calling Berlin “the elite of the elite.” These libraries are clearly the best of anything I have in my collection, and they’ve kicked most of my other libraries to the curb. You get what you pay for. If you’ve heard my work, I’m a very classical-type composer, and I don’t do a lot of hybrid stuff. Not much in the way of electronic elements in my work, and I don’t lean heavily on the rhythm track. So I need the really well-done proliferation of articulations that Berlin gives. I’m also very melodic, and less textural than a lot of modern composers, so again, articulations are at a premium. Berlin gives you that many times over, and the sound quality surpasses everything else out there–although all the top libraries sound great.

Now, for the downside. It’s a double-edged sword. Because you CAN get more realism with Berlin–because you CAN get the phrasing more like what you’re hearing in your head…you spend the extra time to get there. So while you think Berlin is going to save you time, it really doesn’t. You spend just as much or more time on each instrument, simply because you’re getting somewhere with the time you spend. With other libraries, I might spend less time, but settle, because I can tell that I’m getting diminishing returns with additional time spend contouring and phrasing. “Eh,” I tell myself, “maybe I’ll hire a real player to make that sound right later.”

With Berlin, I can get so close to what a real player would sound like that I go ahead and bother to do it. So it’s not saving me time.

But I think my mock-ups are sounding better than ever. And the time I spend mocking up is more fun, because I’m hearing what I want to hear, rather than hearing some so-so facsimile of it, and hoping that real players will come in for the save later.

This project I’m working on will still end up having lots of live players on it: as great at Berlin is, we are still decades away from making live players irrelevant, if we EVER do. But it’s so much more fun to work now.

For those who want to hear what I’m talking about, I’m probably going to enter the piece I’m working on in Mikael’s action music contest this month. So give me a few more days, and you’ll hear it. I’m now using about 95% Berlin. (Percussion is mostly Cinesamples, though.)


Wow this is even more in depth than the other day.

Glad your enjoying Berlin. I agree that Orchestral Tools wed getting a LOT right!

In my own discovery on what makes a good library “good” I’ve learnt one thing that even Berlin is failing to completely grasp.

And it is this:

Though Phrase libraries aren’t ideal due to having to have exactly the right phrase, there’s a happy median that not many libraries are trying to find. And that is a library that possesses both the flexibility that Berlin, performance samples or even Spitfire have with some fixes detail patches that focus on dynamic and intelligent legato/Bow/breath capacities.

What I mean by this is that I incision the future of sampling shifting from the initial sample towards incorporating the sounds of the player and how they play. So a wind/brass instrument might add inhale sounds, tonguing sounds and release trigger key sounds. We’ve seen some libraries incorporate intelligent bowing which is fantastic… but we only see it on solo instruments (which I think is silly as you wouldn’t need many more samples to pull it off).

I feel these types of sounds are the fundamental reason why we get live players, it’s all of the human elements.

I’ve noticed Spitfire adding patches for extended techniques such as breath sound… which I think is great but misses the point ever so slightly.

I may try and incorporate these ideas with a wind instruct of sorts… or perhaps see if I can do it with guitar. I believe this could work really well. What are your thoughts Everett?