# Should you even bother making low-quality samples sound realistic?

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Hey, YoungProdigy here. In Sampletank 3, the samples are from the outdated Miroslav Philharmonik1 library. It lacks round-robins, velocity layers and also has no legato script for strings. Being outdated, sometimes no matter what I do; the library just doesn't sound convincing.

For instance, I started a new song with a trumpet melody. I added natural swells, articulation changes and velocity variation. But it still doesn't sound like a real trumpet section. For the most part, this is because of the samples.

Same with the strings. Without a legato script; it's almost impossible to make convincing strings.

It seems that no matter how much work I put in; the samples just don't sound convincing.

I'm eventually going to get Hollywood Orchestra; which has more velocity layers, round-robin samples and a legato script for strings.

But until then, should I even bother making convincing mockups?

I'm not asking this out of laziness. But out of the realization that; no matter how much time I put in, I can only reach a certain point of realism.

Edited by YoungProdigy

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Low Quality samples are usually hard to make sound realistic. I personally used Miroslav Philharmonik 1 and it's samples were good but never really conviencing to me. What you could do is downloading some free soundfonts, some might sound better than the other and the variety is bigger.

Edited by Emoto

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Low Quality samples are usually hard to make sound realistic. I personally used Miroslav Philharmonik 1 and it's samples were good but never really conviencing to me. What you could do is downloading some free soundfonts, some might sound better than the other and the variety is bigger.

Yes, the Miroslav samples are okay; but you'll have a hard time convincing anyone that it's a real orchestra.

Unlike a real orchestra, the different articulations have drastically different volumes. For instance, the trumpet sustain patch is at a really low volume; but the trumpet staccato patch is at a way higher volume. In a real orchestra, the volumes of different articulations are more balanced. Some sections are also way louder than others, while other sections are way softer than others, making it hard to balance the sections.

I could spend hours trying to make the samples sound realistic and still end up with something that's not convincing.

However, if I upgraded to something more recent; I could probably come up with something convincing. When you have more articulations and more velocity layers to work with; it makes it easier to make something convincing.

So my thing is, why put in the effort; when no matter how hard you try, it's still not going to be convincing.

I could try free soundfonts, but I doubt they would be better.

Edited by YoungProdigy

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I could spend hours trying to make the samples sound realistic and still end up with something that's not convincing.

However, if I upgraded to something more recent; I could probably come up with something convincing. When you have more articulations and more velocity layers to work with; it makes it easier to make something convincing.

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I think you've got a point there. Even when polishing at the best of one's abilities, an unconvincing sample will remain a very well-produced unconvincing sample. If your goal is to have something sound like a full-blown, convincing orchestra, you'll need high quality samples/software (or an orchestra, of course).
On the other hand, when making tracks that are not completely orchestral, slightly lower quality samples or synths can still come across as realistic due to the context they're in. If the rest of the sounds are going to be electronic, for example, a well-produced bit of low quality sampled woodwinds can be convincing because there's no full orchestra playing at the same time.
Apart from all of this, I think it's worth it to just keep developing your musical and production skills regardless of whether or not the end result sounds like a convincing orchestra. If it doesn't because of the low quality of a sample bank, you'll get better anyway and when you eventually DO get your hands on some high end software, you'll know exactly what to do to get everything to sound perfect. So, perhaps drop the goal of sounding like a real orchestra, but try to get as close as you possibly can by using and honing your abilities?

I agree that the best thing to do, might just to be to get as close as I can to a real orchestra. But with my current samples I might only be able to hit maybe 50% of the realism of a real orchestra.

I do understand "production" related things like EQ and reverb. I also do try to make sure that no instruments are clashing.

But at the end of the day my samples are too weak to sound even close to a real orchestra.

I could add tempo changes and I could try to pull notes off the grid.

Perhaps I should just drop the goal of trying to sound like a real orchestra.

If you understand production, then why do you not do even simple things which would add to the impact of your music? When I listen to your music I hear very static (i.e. still, not moving) mixes with little to no evolving FXs, little to no tempo changes. It sounds like MIDI. It performs like MIDI. It doesn't have much impact. The audio itself doesn't have much weight or width to it. I'm sorry to be blunt but you seem to be placing a lot of blame on the samples, and I agree they are definitely a factor. But you could still push them a bit further, even with the limitations they pose. So far, in all of the pieces you've shared with the forum, I've not heard you do this.

You want to sound just like a real orchestra. Well, with the current sample library you have, that's not possible. So instead of throwing your arms up and complaining about that online, why not seek solutions to your situation? It's already been pointed out on this forum the East West Composer Cloud bundle, which is a whopping \$30 a month. Most people can afford that. Go subscribe, get their sample libraries and get to cranking! :)

Well my samples actually do use FX's such as reverb. But perhaps the default reverb amount isn't enough. I suppose I could add tempo changes though; if its appropriate to the particular song. As for sounding like midi; that's a lot to do with the lack of round-robins. However, I do attempt to make my samples perform less like midi by adding expression data and using different articulations.

I don't see this as complaining, but simply asking a question. One of the biggest critiques I get is that the "samples" don't sound realistic.

But what do people expect from samples that are from a 2005 library?

A lot of people don't understand that you can only do so much; with an outdated library. People seem to expect an ultra-realistic sound, from a dated library.

I will eventually upgrade to the East West Hollywood Orchestra library. But money doesn't grow on trees and until I save up for that; there's not much I can do about the samples sounding "unconvincing".

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Well my samples actually do use FX's such as reverb. But perhaps the default reverb amount isn't enough.

I don't feel that it is, and perhaps that's some of how you and I don't seem to be connecting about the feedback I'm giving you. I realize that your sample library may have reverb attached to the samples but that's rarely good enough. I'm talking about a 3rd party (or native to your DAW of choice) reverb. If you can, select a close mic setting for all of your samples then work on creating your own space with a reverb plugin. I often use Space Designer (a Logic bundled reverb plugin) in combination with Valhalla's Room reverb. It works pretty well! And try having the reverb increase (via automation) at the end of phrases for key or solo instruments. Not talking about a lot but that can help give the ending of a phrase more body while keeping the rest of it more clear.

A lot of people don't understand that you can only do so much; with an outdated library. People seem to expect an ultra-realistic sound, from a dated library.

I can't speak for a lot of people but I can speak for me and I was looking and hoping to hear a bit more production. I don't expect an ultra-realistic sound from a dated library. I just expect a well produced song. :) One of my main points was even when producing chip tune music, which is very low fidelity, you can make it sound awesome by adding in many of the production techniques that have been mentioned.

I will eventually upgrade to the East West Hollywood Orchestra library. But money doesn't grow on trees and until I save up for that; there's not much I can do about the samples sounding "unconvincing".

Again, see my point above. There IS more than you can do to make your music have more impact. Will it sound like a real orchestra? Probably not! But that could be okay, especially if it's produced well enough. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, so I'll leave it at that. You do write good music, it just needs a bit more production and attention to detail. Do a lot of A/B comparisons of your music with other music you respect and admire. And I don't just mean listening to the notes and musical ideas. Listen to the production value! Best of luck to you!

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