A listing of random software, tips, tweaks, hacks, and tutorials I made for Ubuntu

Creating an orchestral track under Ubuntu – Part 3: Setting up your orchestra

This part isn’t really hard, but it takes a lot of time to find good orchestral samples, so I’ll simply list some that I’ve used, or heard good reviews about (and good music from):

  • 3.5GB collection of orchestral soundfonts: Seriously, this is a must-have, even if you have better alternatives! Though it is only 3.5GB (unpacked), it contains a LOT of soundfonts. And I mean, a LOT. And not only orchestral soundfonts (though it is mostly orchestral), so if you need to integrate other types of instruments, it does have some interesting non-orchestral ones in there.
    • Pros:
      • Free!
      • Some of them are somewhat HQ, or at least sampled (Bellatrix, (S)GM, Gothic harp, Hades strings, to list a few… you can easily find which ones are sampled by looking at the filesize (and dividing it by the number of instruments available) )
      • Easy to setup, all you need is a soundfont player (except for Bellatrix, you’ll need to install an sfark extractor)
      • A LOT of soundfonts
      • It’s non-HQ-ness and lack of a rich sound actually makes it a really handy tool when you really don’t need a rich sound.
    • Cons:
      • Most (if not all) of them aren’t HQ
      • None of them have a very rich sound (seriously, though it may sound okay to you, after you use something that’s actually HQ, you’ll see the difference… big time)
      • A LOT of soundfonts … yeah, I copied that over. That’s because of the problem with having too much choice. That’s why I just check the filesize, and get the one with the biggest, since it’s much more likely to be better quality :P
  • ProjectSAM Orchestral Essentials: I don’t really know what to say… the sound quality is amazing, but it’s seriously overpriced. Look, you can barely customize which instruments you’ll use (they come in bundles, which is seriously annoying when you’re trying to have fine-grained control over your track), the settings/effects are not very powerful, and Kontakt (it’s a VST that is needed so that you can use it) takes hours to load under LMMS, plus, the demo version (of Orchestral Essentials) expires after 15 …. MINUTES. Of course, all you have to do is to reload the library from Kontakt (by removing it, then adding it back, which actually takes about 20-50 seconds), but really… I personally don’t find any appeal at all to this one.
    • Pros:
      • Amazing sound quality (probably the best I’ve ever heard)
    • Cons:
      • Totally overpriced
      • Kontakt takes a long time to load under LMMS
      • Demo only runs for 15 minutes before requiring you to manually reload the library
      • No good effects, and those that are included don’t work too well (from my experience)
      • Instruments are pretty much bundled up, no real way to get individual instruments and build a hand-picked “orchestra”
      • Not too many instruments are available either
  • EWQL Orchestra: Please understand that I have never tried this! This review is only from what I’ve heard, both reviews and, well, music XD The sound quality doesn’t seem to be as good as ProjectSAM’s quality (the richness of the tone seems to have been diminished a bit, though I could be wrong), but (I’m not sure if it’s only because of the artists I listened to though) it seems to be able to have more “emotion” to it. Reason why I say that, is that it seems to be able to have different styles of how the instruments are played… I wasn’t really able to get this from Orchestral Essentials, or, for that matter, anything else that I’ve tried. So it may be some kind of technique that I’m not aware of, but it seems to be good in that section. Also, it’s MUCH more reasonably priced than ProjectSAM (their smallest package costs $145, and is 11GB, compared to ProjectSAM’s Orchestral Essentials which costs ~$360, and is 6GB, AND you can customize each instrument individually).
    • Pros:
      • Great sound quality
      • Reasonable price
      • Possible different styles(?)
    • Cons:
      • Still costs a lot
      • The only way to get really good sound quality is to go for platinum (24-bit depth is actually noticeably better quality than 16-bit), which costs a lot
      • No idea if it works on WINE well or not (not a con exactly, but it could be :P)
  • Miroslav Philharmonik: This is the one I use. Why? The sound quality is perfectly decent (not as good as EWQL or ProjectSAM though), it’s rather small (7GB), it contains a complete orchestra (including coughing & sneezing sounds… I’m not kidding!), a decent choir, the VST takes anywhere from 2-5 seconds to load on LMMS (a HUGE reason to use it for me), and the VST itself is very powerful.
    • Pros:
      • Decent sound quality
      • Reasonable price (the demo’s timeout is not too short either)
      • Complete orchestra
      • Small
      • Decent choir
      • VST is very fast to load (and quite responsive too)
      • VST is very powerful (you can layer 16 different instruments, apply 4 effects per each instrument, and each effect, all 20 of them, work very well)
      • Easy to use
    • Cons:
      • Still costs money
      • The choir sounds like as if they just copied over soundfonts from that 3.5GB orchestral soundfont link I shared above. Seriously, they sound very similar, AND, sometimes, it seems like as if they’re just repeating the same choirs, but under different names (for example, FA and AH sound identical… I don’t hear the F at all)!
      • The sound quality could be improved
      • Some of the “solo” instruments are unavailable as an ensemble (e.g. the tuba… yeah, I know, I’m stupid for wanting a tuba ensemble :P)
      • Rather high CPU usage is constant, even when no sounds are being played

I hope this can help someone! I strongly encourage you to do your own research before buying any of these though.

If you use anything else, or have another pro/con for an existing product, let me know, I’d love to make this list more complete!


7 responses to “Creating an orchestral track under Ubuntu – Part 3: Setting up your orchestra

  1. Pingback: Creating an orchestral track under Ubuntu – Part 2: Setting up LMMS | lkubuntu

  2. sefran August 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

    • Anonymous Meerkat August 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      What is this?

  3. Pingback: Joel Leclerc: Creating an orchestral track under Ubuntu – Part 2: Setting up LMMS -

  4. anthonyvenable110 August 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Reblogged this on anthonyvenable110.

  5. Pingback: Creating an orchestral track under Ubuntu – Part 4: Designing the track | lkubuntu

  6. Pingback: Joel Leclerc: Creating an orchestral track under Ubuntu – Part 4: Designing the track |

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