This review reflects the 2.0.1b update which is available as a free download for registered MV 2.0 users. The 2.0.1 replaces the existing 2.0 files. It adds an additional 78 programs. Per Miroslav Vitous more free updates are in the works. Because this library is so vast, I’m covering what I feel are the more important points. At the bottom of the review are a series of PDFs from Mr. Vitous that you can download and review at your leisure.
This library is developed by Miroslav Vitous, a Prague Conservatory and Berklee alumni, and the former head of the jazz department at New England Conservatory of Music. A renowned jazz bassist, Mr. Vitous is the founding member of the jazz group Weather Report and has played with such musicians as Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Bob Brookmeyer, Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Miles Davis and Chick Corea.
In the early ’90s, he released his legendary 4-CD sample orchestral library in formats for Akai, E-MU, Gigastudio, and Roland which cost composers US$3500 for the set. Several years ago, the original library was licensed to IK Multimedia and rereleased as the Miroslav Philharmonic.
In the 2009-2010 season, Mr. Vitous released his new String Ensembles 1.0 in Engine format. In January 2012, he released String Ensembles 2.0 in Engine 2.0 format which is a 2DVD 11GB set available through a small group of dealers and shortly his own web site. String Ensembles 2.0 will be followed by both a brass and woodwinds library.
When you first listen to most string libraries, many sound loud and in your face. That’s because in the psychology of sales, loud = big and big = better.
That’s not what you get when you first load MV String Ensembles 2.0. That’s because MVSE2.0 fills a sonic gap in currently available string libraries with its softer, more symphonic sound that lends itself well to lyrical, melodic writing – think Alexandre Desplat for Twilight: New Moon, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 & 2.
Said British composer Rohan Stevenson (Merlin) about SE 2.0:
I must say, these strings are surprisingly pleasing. Particularly the sustained violins are extremely lush and expressive. The different velocity layers have their own individual expressiveness so that the sound is really organic. You really get a sense of the players pulling the bow through the note. The pizzicatos are great too, really great in fact. And the inclusion of sul ponticello is very welcome – not many other libraries have them.
Performing With the Library
The Miroslav Vitous String Ensembles 2.0.1 library is entirely velocity sensitive. It’s designed to be performed, whether playing live or when recording for studio work and MIDI mock-ups.
Understand this and you understand how to approach and use the library.
Play the keyboard lightly, and it sounds soft. Play the harder and it sounds louder. Leaning into the keys produces an even richer, more expressive sound. The result for the end user, as testified in writing to me by several of the demo composers, is that SE2.0 is quick to learn, quick to work with, and is as easy on the brain as it is the CPU since you can just sit, play, and get a great sound. I emphasize this since the other major commercial libraries on the market are usually velocity sensitive on the short articulations only.
Thus, the more expressively you’re able to perform, the more expressive SE2.0 sounds.
The best way to understand this is to start with three key Violin folders containing the patches, which in Engine 2.0 language are called layers. These folders are Full Sections/1st and 2nd Violins, VS Mod Wheel Velocity Zones, and Round Robins.
Full Sections, 1st and 2nd Violins
All of the programs in this folder are velocity sensitive and none of the programs, as in not one, has any mod wheel implementation.
If you want mod wheel implementation for volume or expression, it’s a snap to do in Engine 2.0 with its MIDI Learn feature. Once you’ve assigned the mod wheel, you have the full volume range from no sound to loudest.
The Full Section programs are programmed Violins 1 + Violins 2 giving you a solid 24 violins unison sound. Violins 1 are a 14-person section while Violins 2 are a 10-person section.