By Jose Herring
Cinematic Strings 2.0 a Kontakt 5 based library working with both the free Kontakt 5 Player and the full version of Kontakt 5 is without a doubt one of the most impressive string libraries on the market today. For a complete overview of Cinematic Strings 2.0 please read Peter’s excellent article here: http://soniccontrol.tv/2012/05/03/cinematic-strings-2-0/
One of the most difficult things that I’ve found to do with any string library is slow, expressive melodic writing. And, in hearing MIDI mock-up after mock-up from composers all around the world, I can hear that it’s a problem for many. The problem stems from lack of ability to use a particular library due to complexity of the library to a library just having the wrong sound for melodic expressive playing. So right out of the box I wanted to see if Cinematic Strings 2.0 could easily handle the slower more intimate pieces.
To start, setting CS2.0 up in my template hosted in Vienna Ensemble 5 Pro took minutes, not days, thanks to the cleverly designed patch list. It was a pure delight to see this 20 gig library wrapped up in five patches taking up only 5 MIDI tracks in my DAW. Having used other libraries where just the 1st violins alone take up ten or more MIDI channels I was ecstatic. Deleting older patches that I no longer needed after installing the library, CS2.0 actually made my template smaller track wise—a first! I quickly saw that this library was probably going to become the go-to library due to its ease of use, setup and sound quality. I won’t have to go digging through 20 violin patches with cryptic geek names that don’t even fit properly on the screen. With CS 2.0 if I want violins, I just have to find the violin track.
The Music: Largo
Rather than go into a blow by blow of how Largo was created, I’d rather give you a brief summation of the things that I found while creating the piece that make CS2.0 a seriously great strings library.
The simplicity and ease of use of the library shouldn’t be taken for CS2.0 being a “lite” or featureless string library. This is a full fledged serious contender that has a lot to offer on the same level as all the major string libraries. This library being a favorite of more than a few top tier professionals I know, and with the list price of $499, even the budget-minded composer has access to a set of top quality strings samples—that statement isn’t just marketing hype, it’s the absolute truth.
I fell in the love with the sound of CS2.0. The sound of the strings suited Largo well. Not just the recording quality, but the expressiveness of the samples. Each sample had a life-like musical quality that instantly reminded me of real string players. The hall sounds beautiful, giving the strings that expressive musical ethereal quality that reminded me of very fine orchestral recordings. CS2.0 was going to be able to pull off the level of musicality that I would demand for a piece like Largo. So I wanted to see if CS2.0 would respond musically in a way that a live ensemble would.
Thinking Like a Musician
CS2.0 gives you the option of the notes fingered in a high position on the instruments or a lower position. From the front panel of any patch, toggling back and forth between high and low I could hear that the high position would work well for my piece. The high position achieves that expressive tight sound where all sections blend well together for a cohesive full strings sound. The lower position also sounds wonderful and would have its use in achieving that wide strings sound, but for such an intimate piece as Largo I needed a tighter more intimate sound that the high position really provides.
Since I was using the high position I was able to achieve something that I can rarely achieve with samples. I was able to bring the violas up in unison with the 1st violins [Note: See Professional Orchestration 2A for examples] to reinforce the melody. The high position yielded a similar enough quality between the violins and violas that they blended seamlessly rather than being two distinctly different sounds.