It’s been something like three years since I added Miroslav Philharmonik to my arsenal, and to this day I have yet to find more than one-off uses for what surprisingly many people claim to be a “unique” and “musical” orchestral library. To be perfectly honest I think it effing blows.
Case in point: the latest week or so I’ve been trying to use Philharmonik for setting up a portable orchestral template for use on my laptop. My laptop, being what it is (an ASUS X401U), is not really suitable for any heavy music production duties, but lighter stuff it can handle just fine. And Philharmonik is just that. Lightweight. Yet it has a ton of different stuff to choose from, probably more than I will ever use for on-the-go, roughing-out-ideas type of compositions. Even better, its library path is relative so a project can easily be transferred between computers as long as both machines have their Philharmonik library paths pointing at the right place. Finally sync it with Google Drive so that as soon as I save the project on my lappy, I can then open it up on my stationary machine when I get home for fine tuning and/or listenining to what everything sounds like on studio monitors instead of cans.
Sounds like a neat setup doesn’t it? Yeah it does, if it weren’t for the fact that making Miroslav Philharmonik sound good is like making a cat take regular baths. It just ain’t happening.
Now, I have worked with a lot of older orchestral libraries. In fact, I still do. Advanced Orchestra, the Roland libs, Prosonus, some of the libs originally created for E-MU hardware (and now available from DSF). And I make good use of them. I know perfectly well that you can’t expect super-duper HD sound quality and realism from samples created in the early years of orchestral sampling, and the Miroslav Vitous samples were indeed among the first of its kind (maybe even THE first? I’m not sure). Still, unlike all the other oldies, the Miroslav samples somehow defy my every attempt at making them work for me.
I really don’t know how to describe it. So instead of trying, I’m going to just let you hear it. This is just some random thing for trying out the balance between sections, so please disregard the composition.
OK. Now let’s try it WITHOUT all the corrective EQ on the strings. Yes, that’s right, that first version was EQ’d.
See what I mean?
For a “musical” sample library, there is a lot of VERY UNMUSICAL frequency buildup going on there. The strings are the worst offenders by far, but there’s a plethora of other problems as well (such as some section trumpet samples sounding like they’re clipping, and pretty much everything being out of tune with everything else).
So tell me. How do you actually go about making this thing sound good? Considering how many people are singing Miroslav Philharmonik’s praise, there should be no shortage of examples, but strangely my searches aren’t turning up anything that doesn’t sound equally screechy and lo-fi.
Maybe I’m not using this right. Maybe I’m supposed to go in and EQ and tune every single sample so they can work together as a whole. Maybe I’m supposed to adjust the ADSR envelopes of 7GB of samples so that releases are consistent and one articulation doesn’t have 3s tail while the next has 300ms. Maybe I’m stupid for thinking that this is the sample developer’s job.
I don’t normally slam products like this, but it irks me to no end seeing this highly mediocre orchestral library being lauded left and right like it’s some hidden gem. It isn’t. It’s a decade-old library based on samples that are more than TWO decades old, released by a company with little interest in customer care and at best a spotty reputation as far as sound quality goes. If you’re going to invest in an older library, almost everything else is better.
You have been warned.