I stumbled across this interesting virtual orchestration positioning tool called VirtualSoundStage. As it is designed for overcoming the challenges of using samples from many different libraries, i.e. making everything sound like a whole despite conflicting ambiences, micing techniques etc, it seemed like something that might come in really handy for me. After all I am a library slut with no loyalty for any single sample developer and my setup is a Frankenstien-like patchwork of different stuff.
So how does it work? Well, you remove any existing panning/stage ambience and insert VSS on every output channel in your project and use it for positioning the sections/instruments. At least that is how I interpret the manual. And for what it is, VSS does its job. It’s straightforward to work with and the virtual soundstage it delivers is convincing.
But — yes, here comes the ‘but’ you’ve been waiting for — the price tag seems a little steep for what is basically a one trick pony. Considering that the same or at least similar results can be had from any good true stereo reverb with detailed early reflections and your DAW’s native panning controls, I’m not really seeing the point here. Furthermore, having dozens of these plugins to keep track of in a project seems like a major hassle. My standard orchestral template has 57 output tracks (likely more, I counted only the named ones). What if somewhere down the line I would want to change some global setting — I’d have to open and adjust 57+ instances of VSS? No thanks. And what about CPU load? A single VSS is very frugal (0.3% on my ageing quad core) but if you need to load that many instances, it might become an issue.
Admittedly, the manual mentions that a “global” mode that lets you adjust settings across all loaded instances is planned (plus additional early reflection models) so VSS might very well become more useful than it is right now. At $99 this plugin is crazily overpriced ATM but if the promised functionality is added and the price stays the same, I might consider getting it.
Also, a nitpick: I don’t get why the GUI appears to be designed for the visually impaired. Exactly what point does the detailed seating plan view serve when all you use it for is moving around a speaker icon? Something smaller and more abstract would have sufficed.
YMMV of course. Try it out, let me know what you think. I didn’t do any really in-depth testing as the demo version doesn’t save its settings between sessions.