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#2797770 01/02/19 11:24 AM
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Are there really any good DPs that have great string and orchestral sounds, or is a VST the way to go nowadays? I've tried digitals (most recently the Yamaha P515), but really haven't been that impressed with the sounds, considering the price. I'm thinking of just getting a MIDI keyboard, and running something like Spitfire Audio's Albion One on my PC. Much less money, and I think the sound will be a lot more realistic.


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VSTs can pretty much get you better anything. But there are still lots of great and very usable string/orchestral sounds, they may just not always be in the DPs you prefer for other reasons. Yamaha has some great orchestral sounds in the MODX, Montage, and Genos but those may not give you the piano experience of the P515. Kuzweil (Forte, SP6) is also nice for that kind of variety of sounds. But every board has its trade-offs.

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The question is how you extract the sounds. Assuming you are a composer/arranger:

If your method is writing notes/chords sequentially, one after another, then you are well with a decent DAW and a collection of VSTi including Spitfire.

If your method is live performance with post-editing of the results, the advantage of DP(s) is a possibility of playing several voices simultaneously using pre-programmed arpeggios, live overdubbing, several keyboards, pedals etc. Some Yamaha keyboards support this method and have decent orchestra sounds.

Both methods require a painstaking work for tuning volume, reverb and numerous other parameters for making the instruments compatible for sounding simultaneously.

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The Yamaha Montage is a professional workstation that has a lot of sound options. The Montage is built like a tank. I tried the 88 key version. The synth type keybed is sublime but differs from an that of an acoustic piano significantly. The mid-sized screen and knob user interface is excellent. Sound quality is excellent, even with the older lower quality patches. It is really fun to play and noodle around with. Liked this from the very first note. Very expensive as it really is made for professional studios.

The new Yamaha MODX is nearly "identical" at a much lower price. The case, the keybed feel a bit cheaper and the sound quality is not quite as good, even with the same sounds I played on the Montage. The synth forums note this is a great value.

Note there are big differences in keybed, price, etc among the different sized Yamaha boards, with the 88s being priced at a premium.

For string & orchestral sounds, VSTs probably offer better quality, more choice, perhaps more options for the future. That said they get expensive fast and another best one is right around the corner waiting to empty your wallet and disappoint you.

Both the Montage/MODX and the VSTs have learning curves. Albeit, you can just push a few buttons on the Montage/MODX and start playing which is rather fun; menu diving for more complex work might not be so much. I really don't like working on the computer for creative work. . .

I don't have any idea how the workstations & VSTs split the market for serious orchestral work & for popular music. I suppose professionals run both. . .

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Cool. I am not a pro, but aside from playing piano, I enjoy a lot of soundtrack and film music. Since I already have a reasonably powerful PC, and some decent monitor speakers, I thought I'd give the VST stuff a try. I'm sure the Yamaha, and other workstations are nice, but I'm not really at the point were I want to spend several thousand dollars.


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I would add that instrument patches in the mentioned Yamaha keyboards typically have 88 tones range. Even Violins, Cellos, Flutes etc. They combine different basic samples for that, and they do not have special buttons for legato, spicato, tenuto, sforzando etc., which typically are present in VSTi instruments.

On the other hand, VSTi instruments have the sound ranges of the instruments they are sampled from. So, if you intend to make a classical format score and do not plan to play the instruments live, the VSTi path may be better.


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