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Making Personal Orchestra sound good.

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Making Personal Orchestra sound good.

Postby Steve » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:31 pm

Does anyone have any Logic X effects secrets (beside reverb) that they would like to share????
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Re: Making Personal Orchestra sound good.

Postby Credo » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:02 am

Sorry I can't give "Logic Specifics", but here are some ideas that are surely relevant, and are most likely possible in Logic.

1. Randomize (or dequantize) start and release times of notes in each track across an instrument section. I.E. Many DAWs have the ability to set real time track attributes. As an example, in CuBase I can have all of the note start and releases randomized inside a time ratio of say, 20ms. This is a real time, non-destructive adjustment, so every time the sequence is played back it could sound slightly different (or I can optionally dequantize, by hand, or with logic editors, and each replay would be identical). The point to better expose the attack and release phases of each instrument in a it sounds more like real player ensembles and less like a perfectly synced sequence playing on a fancy organ.

2. Practice with your sequencer's logic editors. Most DAWs have both non destructive real time, or as frozen track 'editors'. You can use these editors to quickly sketch in variety to things like attack velocity, and expression volume (CC1). Then go back later and tweak it by hand for an even more natural feel.

Just as an example, I'll often start with running a quick automated editor that grabs the MIDI note value and creates a CC1 event with a matching value. What this does is cause the expression volume to rise with higher notes, and fall with lower notes. Once I've done that, I go back and parse the track again if I need to raise or lower the CC1 events in the track by a set amount (I.E. raise or lower all CC1 values in the track by 20). Finally, I can process the track one last time to randomize those CC values a bit if desired (I.E. add or subtract a random value between 1 and 10 to all CC1 values on a track). After that, I do manual tweaks per note if needed, and take care of entering things like sfz attacks and crescendos.

Note that with practice, we learn how powerful the logic editors in these DAWs can be, and how quickly we can parse entire tracks to give human like effects to the 'dynamics' of each and every note. I.E. We could emulate the habitual slight crescendo effect that an individual trombone player might place on nearly every note with an automated logic editor. Similarly, we could do the same with velocity and even very slight pitch bend events.

3. Experiment with, and use the other CC controllable parameters supported by your instruments in ARIA. Some instruments offer more real time sound shaping than others, but in many cases experimenting with these controls can add a good deal of expressiveness and realism to a phrase.

4. EQ, EQ, EQ, and the occasional 'notch filter'. Most DAWs do come with a collection of Studio Equalizers that can be dropped in as an insert. The built in EQ section of ARIA is quite basic, and isn't fully controllable via remote; however, with your DAW, you can usually insert really nice parabolic or 1/3rd octave graphic equalizers and automate all their controls in real time. Notch filters can allow you to isolate really small frequency ranges and reduce or excite those frequencies...again making automated adjustments as needed.

5. Layers........
Don't be afraid to copy tracks and send the same part to another instrument layer. Even if it's at super low volumes. If one clarinet isn't cutting it, add another...pan it differently, etc. Also take note of the instrument 'overlays' included in some of the Garritan instrument families. Those can often add a rich 'sectional ambiance'.

Also, try different patches. Just because an instrument is called 1, 2, etc...doesn't mean you have to use 1 for first part, 2 for second, and so on. Heck, you can even swap patches in the middle of a phrase if that's what sounds better. Try different combinations...sometimes the Trumpet 3 patch sounds better playing 1st part for a given passage than Trumpet 1. The point here is try different patches and layers, and get to know the sweet and weak ranges of each Garritan Instrument.

Also, don't be shy about experimenting with mixing and matching other synths and libraries you might have on hand. I'm not sure what synth engine comes with Logic...but most DAWs do come with some pretty good sounds in the box (I.E. CuBase has Halion, Sonic has Dimension, etc.).

6. Sound Staging can make a major difference, particularly with sample libraries that are very 'dry' at the source. This is where experimentation with basic panning, reverb, and chorus come into play. Note, the possibilities are nearly unlimited, and the approach in designing an effect chain largely depends on the type of music being mixed, and the recording scenario you hope to emulate. I.E. Getting the sound of a close miced studio trumpet section is quite different from trying to get a back row taceted (playing into the music stand) sound in a front stage opera style orchestra pit.

Where effect chains are concerned, here are some ideas to experiment with.

First consider using the multiple output version of ARIA and disabling its built in effects. Now you can give each instrument (or family of instruments) a unique output stream and insert effects directly on your DAW mixing desk (and automate those accordingly form inside your sequences).

An alternative (similar results, but with a slightly different work-flow) to working with ARIA as a 'rack' style to install sforzando ( ) and enable 'track instruments' on an as need basis. Yes, sforzando is equipped to deal with the Garritan Library will unlock and play them. In this case, each new instance of sforzando will have its own audio stream pop up on the mixing console. sforzando doesn't have built in convolution and reverb at all, so you'd have no choice but to add them as DAW inserts.

As for how to apply reverb to get a more realistic sound, you'll find that each family of instruments can have a different range of needs...hence my encouraging you to bypass ARIA's sound staging (which is pretty dawg gone good for quick results...but it can't hurt to explore possibilities beyond that scope) and experiment more with all the sound shaping goodies provided by your DAW. I'll just use brass as an example since that's often one of the most difficult things to 'warm up or tone down' into a more realistic sound-scape.

I usually start with some bone dry trumpets. First I'll warm these up with some basic plate reverb, that has very little if any tail or echo effect. I put this right into the insert chain of the trumpet channel(s). I want just enough reverb here to get all the strident overtones to meld a bit. In this case, I'm not yet ready to try to emulate a room or anything...I just want to set the basic tone/timber of my trumpet section.

I'll repeat this process for other instruments (or families of instruments).

Next, work out the stage placement (panning).

Last, I'll set up a room convolution that all of the instruments share on an AUX bus. I hook all of the instrument audio streams into that via post aux sends. I can emulate distance from the mic by adjusting the relationship between the dry volume and the amount being sent to the room convolution/reverb via the aux send, and all of this can be tweaked and automated in my DAW sequencer.

In the very last mastering stages, I call into question the use of compression. Should compression be used at all? What about effects like tape saturation? Well...that seriously depends on the sound you're after, the dynamic range you want preserved in your Master, and the target format (I.E. 24 bit wav VS 16bit MP3) and speaker systems that'll be used to play back your master. If you're going to share the end results with people using ear buds and cheap computer speakers...then some compression might be in order to ensure 'every part' cuts through and can be heard during soft passages.

Really...reading up on mastering, compression, personal experimentation...and LISTENING to lots of different mixes to see how they managed to get things sound good on a large variety of speaker systems is the only way I know to attack this. Practice...listen through every set of speakers and phones you can get your hands on to get a better idea of how 'your studio monitors 'translate', and practice.......
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Cubase 8.5; Sibelius 7.5; Finale 2014.5; Bidule;
Garritan Ultimate Collection, Halion 5, Halion Symphonic Orchestra, SONiVOX Film and Orchestra Companion

Re: Making Personal Orchestra sound good.

Postby Steve » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:35 pm

Wow, that is a response. This stuff is awesome. I will try to apply everything mentioned. Thanks again for such a detailed reply
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