Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

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NeonNoodles
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Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

Hello,

I plan to buy this virtual instrument (below), but I don't own an iPad. A demo of the instrument shows an iPad being used (very well) to control the instrument - some kind of OSC application, I think - can anyone tell what this application is? What would be some good hardware/software alternatives for controlling an instrument like this?

Currently I only have a small keyboard midi controller with two wheels and no buttons, so it seems clear that something more will be needed to get the best out of a good VST like this one. I would even get an iPad if that is best in the long run, though I'd like to spend less than $300 if possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inkcek1bFJw

Thanks!

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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by thinkingcap »

NeonNoodles wrote:Hello,

I plan to buy this virtual instrument (below), but I don't own an iPad. A demo of the instrument shows an iPad being used (very well) to control the instrument - some kind of OSC application, I think - can anyone tell what this application is? What would be some good hardware/software alternatives for controlling an instrument like this?

Currently I only have a small keyboard midi controller with two wheels and no buttons, so it seems clear that something more will be needed to get the best out of a good VST like this one. I would even get an iPad if that is best in the long run, though I'd like to spend less than $300 if possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inkcek1bFJw

Thanks!
And your Cubase 7 question is..?
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

...is that I use Cubase 7, and I'm asking about a midi controller to use with a VST.

Should I have posted in a different forum? The forum titles are all rather specific, none seemed quite right for my question.

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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by papi61 »

OK, the video shows a demo of a virtual cello, which incidentally sounds anything BUT real. The blend of staccato attack and legato sustain is so obvious, it reminds me of samples from the late 1990's.

And you need an iPad for that? :lol:
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

Papi61: do you have a suggestion for a better violin VST?

I play several instruments and am ultimately looking for a way around buying an electric violin and an electric cello; I only have so much time for practice, and only so much money to spend. The VSTs offered by this company (both violin and cello) sound good to me, better than East West or NI strings, but if you know of a better VST I always welcome suggestions.

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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by thinkingcap »

NeonNoodles wrote:...is that I use Cubase 7, and I'm asking about a midi controller to use with a VST.

Should I have posted in a different forum? The forum titles are all rather specific, none seemed quite right for my question.
This forum is for
Post questions and find answers on our latest Cubase releases here.
And the application shown is "touch OSC".
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

Thanks. I guess I should post this to the "VST Instruments and Virtual Effects (general)" forum.

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papi61
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by papi61 »

NeonNoodles wrote:Papi61: do you have a suggestion for a better violin VST?

I play several instruments and am ultimately looking for a way around buying an electric violin and an electric cello; I only have so much time for practice, and only so much money to spend. The VSTs offered by this company (both violin and cello) sound good to me, better than East West or NI strings, but if you know of a better VST I always welcome suggestions.
The Emberton violin is decent, but only for slow passages. Play it faster and it's a disaster. Don't know much about the Blakus cello, but judging from the video, it's not very good (the cross-fade staccato attack is too obvious and immediately gives it away as not the real McCoy.)

Here are the solo strings packages that IMHO work much better than that:

1. Spitfire Solo Strings. Excellent quality, very playable. The only drawback is the natural hall reverb that you can't quite completely eliminate.

2. 8Dio Adagio Strings. Yes, these packages also include solo instruments and they're excellent. They give you an amazing array of legato types, more than any competing product.

3. Vienna Symphonic Library. These are some of the best solo strings on the market (also some of the most expensive.) You can achieve fantastic results with them. The drawback is that they're unintuitive to use and require lots of note-by-note editing to achieve the ultimate realism.

4. LASS 2. I'm not a big fan of that library, but people I know swear by the first violin and first cello being excellent in solo passages.

In the end, however, the best solution is always:

5. Hire a good violin/cello player. ;)
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by Gusfmm »

You could consider using your smartphone and getting "Touch OSC", it's available for iDevices and Android OS. Bluetooth with your computer. It works well as you can see from the Embertone videos. Any other MIDI controller with a couple of faders you can assign to X/Y for the vibrato/dynamics control would do it too.

BTW, no VSTi is perfect, specially solo instruments which are more challenging to program. They ALL have pros & cons. Embertone's is no worse than most of those mentioned. Don't ever forget that a lot of the end result has to do with the performance/MIDI programming.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

Thanks everyone, this is the info I was looking for. Very much appreciated!

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papi61
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by papi61 »

Gusfmm wrote: BTW, no VSTi is perfect, specially solo instruments which are more challenging to program. They ALL have pros & cons.
Yes, and that's why I clearly stated that the best solution is still hiring good players.
Embertone's is no worse than most of those mentioned. Don't ever forget that a lot of the end result has to do with the performance/MIDI programming.
I'd have to disagree on that. The Emberton violin has a slow attack that prevents it from being used to play very fast passages (tried to play some Paganini with it: complete disaster.) That to me is a total deal-breaker. Unless maybe you only use it for slow and expressive passages. Which is why I still keep it in my Kontakt library folder, although honestly I don't remember ever using it in an actual production. As for the cello, it has that staccato attack that you can hear from a mile and that openly advertises its not being the real McCoy (another utter deal-breaker IMHO.) Incidentally, there are other low-cost cellos that have the very same issue (Garritan's Gofriller first comes to my mind, although, as a partial excuse, that's a much older product from the mid-2000's, IIRC.)

Granted that no library is perfect, some of the better libraries I mentioned before are way more flexible and allow you to more easily hide their shortcomings.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by ipanema »

papi61 wrote:Granted that no library is perfect, some of the better libraries I mentioned before are way more flexible and allow you to more easily hide their shortcomings.
+1
papi61 wrote:5. Hire a good violin/cello player.
+1 again.

Granted, the more you pay for a "better" library of your choice, you will get better results. However, no library (yet, and I guess not in the near future, if ever) can take the place of a good solo instrumentalist.
NeonNoodles wrote:I play several instruments and am ultimately looking for a way around buying an electric violin and an electric cello; I only have so much time for practice, and only so much money to spend.
As talented an instrumentalist as you may be, forget the idea of trying to become a virtuoso violinist if you are more than 5 years old. ;)
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by Gusfmm »

papi61 wrote:The Emberton violin has a slow attack that prevents it from being used to play very fast passages (tried to play some Paganini with it: complete disaster.) That to me is a total deal-breaker. Unless maybe you only use it for slow and expressive passages. Which is why I still keep it in my Kontakt library folder, although honestly I don't remember ever using it in an actual production. As for the cello, it has that staccato attack that you can hear from a mile and that openly advertises its not being the real McCoy (another utter deal-breaker IMHO.) Incidentally, there are other low-cost cellos that have the very same issue (Garritan's Gofriller first comes to my mind, although, as a partial excuse, that's a much older product from the mid-2000's, IIRC.)

Granted that no library is perfect, some of the better libraries I mentioned before are way more flexible and allow you to more easily hide their shortcomings.
I'm not certain at all what challenges you're referring to on that Paganini music you tried. But it doesn't sound like you've explored the instrument thoroughly. There is enough control already implemented to allow you to adjust the speed to the legato, and length of the staccato. Not sure you've seen the video below, but just a few seconds into it and you can get a quick flavor for a few fast legato notes that sound fairly decent. None of that slow attack you indicated. Worth watching it in its entirety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7akUpXOHZoQ#t=14

As a virtual instrument, it is certainly more limited than a VSL Solo Violin (BTW- I own and intensively use a VSL Cube + several other VSL libraries) in terms of number of available articulations, but Embertone has already announced being working on a free update to add some obviously common arts such as Spiccato, for an upcoming free update. I maintain that as the previous is a downside (and there certainly are a few other shortcomings in my opinion), the way Embertone implemented vibrato control is quite appealing to me, much better sounding than any other solo library I've heard and used.
Last edited by Gusfmm on Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by Gusfmm »

By the way, this is a piece (not mine) that I think well portraits the capabilities of the Friedlander as-is now. From slow legato, to portamentos, to double-stops, to staccatos, to very fast legato lines...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZJB-FGJVGY
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

Gusfmm: thanks for the links, very helpful! They show the VST more as I expected it to behave, which is reassuring (in the case that I do buy and use Embertone). Thanks too for verifying that Touch OSC works on multiple OSs - I was mainly concerned about my Nook, which apparently has some trouble with Touch OSC. It's the only near-worthy touchpad device I have, so if that doesn't work, I'll need to buy a better phone, or a pad of some kind.

I agree with papi61 and ipanema: the real deal (an actual violinist) is the highest quality option.

To ipanema's point: it would be realistically possible to learn violin well enough to at least play/record isolated passages, relatively well, though I wouldn't expect to attain "virtuoso" level with any instrument unless I were willing to devote my life to the pursuit. Something I do like about the prospect of owning and learning with a good electric violin is that the study is, overall, worth more than learning a simulation program, and it offers the eventual reward of exercising exact control over what you play and record, and the opportunity to put passion into it as well. Of course it takes time, discipline and effort - much more, depending on how proficient one intends to become - but with a bigger picture in mind, I'd easily take basic violin proficiency over a good VST. I'm not looking to compose a challenging solo violin piece anyway.

It's just that a solid entry-level electric violin is $600 or so, and this VST is only $125. :)

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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by -steve- »

Well, I'm a violinist and I say buy the the VST. It sounds pretty decent in the clips, though in the long youtube piece the piano hides the faults of the VST fiddle.

Also it won't just cost $600 for the violin. Once you get good enough to play it you will realize that it doesn't sound very good (if you like the sampled one) in order to really hear your own tone. So you will be able to pick one up for around $2000. Then, after getting a bit better you will realize that it really doesn't sound so good either you want you need something better– Now you're talking $25,000, unless you find a really great and not-yet-known young luthier.

Those samples were probably made with a $100,000 violin. so the real comparison is:

VST: $125.00 vs Violin: $100,000 plus lessons. ;)
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

Ha! Yes, I'm already at that point with other instruments, where I definitely don't want to turn to a VST given my proficiency with/passion for the musical instrument, but it is becoming unrealistic to set my sights on an instrument model one or two levels up. I'm most proficient with electric and acoustic guitars, been playing and studying for 20 years, but the best my pocketbook has been able to support is a lower-tier Martin six string acoustic, and I still use the same (used) Charvel electric that I was given on my 14th birthday, stock electronics and all.

Given that frame of reference, it really is bananas to even begin thinking about acquiring new entry-level instruments. But making music with buttons and knobs just feels tepid sometimes, despite the complexity.

EDIT: I know there's little-to-no comparison between the cost of top-of-the-line violins, and guitars of the same relative quality. I just mean to say: point well-taken! But I own and play a handful of other instruments as well, so I think I could match the fantastical $100K price mark if I had to. :)

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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

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Gusfmm wrote:
I'm not certain at all what challenges you're referring to on that Paganini music you tried. But it doesn't sound like you've explored the instrument thoroughly. There is enough control already implemented to allow you to adjust the speed to the legato, and length of the staccato. Not sure you've seen the video below, but just a few seconds into it and you can get a quick flavor for a few fast legato notes that sound fairly decent. None of that slow attack you indicated. Worth watching it in its entirety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7akUpXOHZoQ#t=14
There is nothing played fast like a Paganini Capriccio in that video.

Now try something like this on your Emberton and tell me if it works:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8j1x3pTOyo

Yeah, I can do that with other virtual violins.

P.S. In case you can you do that with Emberton and I'm really the schmuck who can't figure out how, please let me know how, thanks.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by Gusfmm »

Well, don't blame the tool, blame the carpenter that selects the wrong tool.

I'd suggest you try another VSTi for that Paganini material.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20dUw6znJFE

I said Embertone's doesn't have Spiccatos at this point, so there is obviously no proper way to try to replicate such extreme line with it. But there is a huge difference in your claim of what you call "slow attach" to playing such a flying spiccato line. How much of your music has such extremely fast lines? To the point of your saying that make it makes it unusuable for you? It is certainly not only usable for "slow and expressive passages" as you said. So let's not be argumentative for the sake of argumenting.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

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Gusfmm wrote:Well, don't blame the tool, blame the carpenter that selects the wrong tool.
My point was that Emberton is the wrong tool for really fast passages. While other virtual instruments can do that.
So let's not be argumentative for the sake of argumenting.
Since in the end you had to admit I was right, I think that's exactly what YOU are doing. I don't think the lack of spiccato is unimportant. But again, you want to just be argumentative, feel free to tell me that I'm the only one who needs that articulation.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by Gusfmm »

papi61 wrote:
Gusfmm wrote:Well, don't blame the tool, blame the carpenter that selects the wrong tool.
My point was that Emberton is the wrong tool for really fast passages. While other virtual instruments can do that.
So let's not be argumentative for the sake of argumenting.
Since in the end you had to admit I was right, I think that's exactly what YOU are doing. I don't think the lack of spiccato is unimportant. But again, you want to just be argumentative, feel free to tell me that I'm the only one who needs that articulation.
Oh boy... pointless.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by papi61 »

Gusfmm wrote:
Oh boy... pointless.
Yeah, it's virtually impossible for you to admit you were wrong. You said it yourself: no spiccato. And how exactly do you play fast passages without spiccato?
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by NeonNoodles »

I would expect to have known the word "spiccato" as a string bass player or, failing that, as a writer, but here again I've learned something else new.

Thanks guys. :P

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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by ipanema »

NeonNoodles wrote:but with a bigger picture in mind, I'd easily take basic violin proficiency over a good VST. I'm not looking to compose a challenging solo violin piece anyway.
NeonNoodles wrote:But I own and play a handful of other instruments as well, so I think I could match the fantastical $100K price mark if I had to.
Bravo. I genuinely admire your self confidence. But there are a couple of points I'd like share with you.

a) If you're "not looking to compose a challenging solo violin piece" then any good quality VSTi will easily get your job done. And if you aren't so convinced by what SteveInChicago said earlier, then go for it. At the end of the day it's your choice and only yours.

b) Remember your first post? You were looking for the "best MIDI controller for Emberton Violin" (hence the thread title). Don't you think we are way off-topic at this point of the discussion? I for one, admit I never said anything to answer your topic question, which certainly was NOT "Using violin VSTi's vs Learning to play the violin".

Whatever you choose, I wish you good luck.
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Re: Best Midi Controller for Embertone Violin

Post by Ed Doll »

This has become very off topic from the original questions and some personal comments are completely unnecessary - especially the ones made by you, Papi61.
It is not the first thread you screwed up with a very aggressive and dogmatic behaviour. Don't get me wrong, there is valuable content in your posts but you really tend to push it too hard. So that's a warning... and the topic is moved to its appropriate place.
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