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Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

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Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby JordanBeats » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:28 am

Hi All

This may be a niche question, or an amateur one, but I beg of you to help me either way.

I am a drummer who sings and writes music, but I hardly play any other instrument, (unfortunately including the MIDI keyboard I have).

My dream scenario would be having access to a wide range of realistic sounding instruments, sounds and parts (guitars, bass and others), which I can fully customise into my songs in terms of chords, articulation, strumming, soloing, tempo etc etc.

I have Cubase Pro, however the MIDI instruments and samples don't sound that realistic (even with editing tools like arpeggiators), and the Audio samples library seems limited in terms of content and editing ability.

Do you think Kontakt 5 sounds and samples will provide me with what I need? Or, given I am not that good on a MIDI keyboard/controller, should I invest in instrument-specific software, like Ample Sound guitars, that allows you to program the sound you want?

I am worried that even with having Kontakt, I will end up still needing something like Ample Sound guitars, and that will be heavy on the wallet.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby The Elf » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:39 am

Having realistic-sounding library material is really only the start of getting realistic-sounding musical parts.

In fact, the more 'realistic' library material is, typically the more it demands of the user to handle its expressive features and articulations - of which there may be many. You will need at the very least to create a part that is sympathetic to the instrument. Simply firing an arpeggiator into a string emulation, for example, and holding down some chords in hope isn't going to give you a very realistic-sounding result.

That said, the included Kontakt Library is actually very good and will represent a good start. Just be realistic about your own part in the process and you'll likely be pretty happy with it all.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby garrettendi » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:11 am

Welcome to the forums! :wave:

I would also strongly recommend you learn to use your MIDI keyboard effectively, and the basics of music theory.

You don't need to be amazingly good at piano, but it will help you achieve better results if you can at least play a little.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby JordanBeats » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:25 am

First off, thank you The Elf and garrettendi for taking the time to reply, out of 40 views you're the only two that bothered :-)

To The Elf, you make a good point, and in a way it's the same one I am making. I am aware that no matter how good a sound you can get out of the library, it still needs the composer to actualise it into a meaningful arrangement that carries all the intended nuances. And that's exactly my question; since I am aware of my own limitations as an instrument player, am I better served investing in plugins that - at least on paper - seem to cater to that? For instance Ample Sound Guitars, or say the cheaper Indiginus guitars, allow you to "activate" a number of strumming patterns and "design" solos without having to actually "play them".

And as for learning to play the keyboard garrettendi, that's what I was just thinking just minutes ago when I was driving home from work. Since it's a percussive instrument it should be easier for me to learn than say guitar, although funnily enough I am better on guitar than keyboard at the moment! But even a master on the keyboard will need a crisp library to be able to emulate the real thing.

What an expensive passion to have...
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby desmond » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:23 am

I might be wrong, but it *sounds* to me like you don't want Kontakt.

It's factory library is decent but not spectacular - the main reason really to get Kontakt is to buy and use the excellent third-pary libraries - so it's a fairly heavy investment. And after all that, it's still up to you to play and compose with those instruments - it doesn't matter how expensive or detailed the instruments are, a bad composer can make them sound cheap pretty quickly!

It sounds to me (and I could be wrong of course) like what you really want is some kind of environment that lets someone with limited musical or playing chops, to play around with, and knock up, kinds of backing track / arrangements with some automated instruments etc - the kind of things that professional musicians tend to avoid. Type in chord changes, get some instruments grooving along, pick from a variety of styles, that kind of thing?

Some tools can do this of thing to varying degrees (heck, you'd go quite a long way with Garageband or Logic and it's Apple Loop content, for example) but in general, you're going to struggle if for instance, you don't have the chops to play chords on a keyboard etc.

So how much do you need "realistic instruments" versus "realistic instruments I don't have to play" along the scale are you?
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby JordanBeats » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:42 am

Thanks Desmond, I really like the way you read my post, you seem to get what I’m getting at. At this stage in my musical development, I’m more inclined to invest in “realistic instruments I won’t have to play”. Hence my consideration of ample sound. The idea of “designing” the sound as opposed to “performing” it seems more logical.

I’m not naive enough to assume that I just have to choose the chords and the software does all the rest for me, there’s still a fair bit of programming left for me to do I’m sure, but I find that a much smaller mountain to climb. I have the musical ear but not quite the right fingers to get the sounds I have in my head.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby desmond » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:09 pm

JordanBeats wrote:Thanks Desmond, I really like the way you read my post, you seem to get what I’m getting at. At this stage in my musical development, I’m more inclined to invest in “realistic instruments I won’t have to play”. Hence my consideration of ample sound. The idea of “designing” the sound as opposed to “performing” it seems more logical.

Ok great. I would say then that probably investing in Kontakt would be an expensive disappointment for your needs.

JordanBeats wrote:I’m not naive enough to assume that I just have to choose the chords and the software does all the rest for me, there’s still a fair bit of programming left for me to do I’m sure, but I find that a much smaller mountain to climb. I have the musical ear but not quite the right fingers to get the sounds I have in my head.

No problem. Have you done any song construction using loops before? I wonder whether an environment where you have a big loop library might more easily let you jam around, and create ideas and arrangements, without focusing on the playing so much? (I'm a Logic user which is ideal for this, but being Mac-based and fairly deep it might not be ideal for you).

Have you got an iPad? There are a bunch of fun, inexpensive apps on there, like Launchpad or Garageband that will let you experiment with this way of working to see whether it works for you.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby OneWorld » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:52 pm

My quest for the 'perfect' sound has seen me scale the highest mountains, cross mighty oceans, never cross the save river twice, nor sleep in the same bed night after night, and of course spend lots of £o££y. I have become a perfect spender! And do you know what? I don't think there is a perfect sound. There are so many apps etc that make one convince him/herself they have found that magic potion, the holy grail of music.

But as others have suggested, the best thing to do is to get your head around the language and expression of music rather than pour your ideas into a computer, wind the handle and out plops a perfect tune.

I have used Kontakt, Gigastudio (Now dead and gone, but one of the best soft samplers I have known), Hypersonic and then onto Halion, and I am now at Halion 5 and will be buying Halion 6. That suits me because I am a Cubase user.

The later versions of Cubase come with some excellent soft synths and a ROMpler called Halion Sonic SE, which doesn't allow you to roll your own samples but comes with an excellent library of sounds that are highly editable. It also comes with a drum player, Groove Agent SE and it is excellent. In fact I had already bought the full version Groove Agent 4 but it is over egging the pudding for me and I tend to use the free Groove Agent SE.

You make mention of Indiginus - I have possibly spent that much on guitar samplers that I could probably have gone out and bought myself a Martin or Les Paul Custom. Guitars are so hard to sample because there is an infinite range of variables to factor in - let's face it, the guitar vocabulary ranges from Segovia to Jimi Hendrix and beyond.

The electric guitars seem a little more convincing, but the acoustic guitar examples have left me getting over my laziness and picking up the guitar and learning to play the part.

Suffice it to say the old wisdom always stands in good stead - buy cheap and you buy twice. Some might get acceptable or even impressive results from Indiginus, but it escapes me, to make it realistic you almost have to 'craft' each note, otherwise you just get an artificial sounding 'plunk' that when you get up past the 5th fret region, sounds like a banjo with reverb on it.

As for Amplesound, if I were to spend more money on an artificial guitar, I think that's the one I would go for, but I have tried so many others and been dis-appointed.

In the end I went out and treated myself to a Taylor acoustic, and like any other quality instrument, it almost whispers words of pure joy every time I tickle its belly. I haven't managed that out of an artificial instrument yet. That's not to say I would dismiss them, not at all but it is more than apparent now you need to put as much effort into learning to 'play' a sampler as you would the real instrument.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby JordanBeats » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:36 am

Thank you OneWorld, before thanking you for the post, would like to compliment your narrative; you know how to tell a story mate.

I've known myself to serially buy things that for a few minutes at the time I had thought are "The Solution", and so impulsively at times that I now realise it was my subconscious trying to beat my brain before it talks me out of it. And I am now trying to learn from my mistakes; hence asking kind people like yourself for help.

My issue is that I'm a late bloomer in music, who - at least he thinks - has musical ideas and sounds that are screaming to come out, but not the instrumental skills to match.

I started as a drummer so the beat is never my problem (funny that when the drums is the most sampled instrument due to its binary percussive nature). I play guitar, but I am not a guitarist, so my chords are limited and solos nonexistent, but that's how I write music, with my $200 brand-less nylon strings. Although I've never played it, but bass would be easier for me since it's a rhythm instrument that follows the drums.

I can probably teach myself to be a better guitarist, maybe even a very good one, and could perhaps learn the keyboard so well that the MIDI universe will open itself to me.
Time however isn't on my side, and I really want to be making music NOW, this very second if I could.

I'm a Cubase user too (9.5 Pro version), albeit far from a power one. I always use the MIDI loops within Halion Sonic SE; they are suitable in concept, since you can fully edit them in terms of chord, tempo etc. The library is limited however in content and some of the samples are disappointing when it comes to authenticity of sound. Also, the guitar instruments especially sound terrible to me. I have heard this is a drawback that also exists in the Sonic and Full versions, or are the latter two better you think?

As for your last remark, I think that answered a question that I didn't have but was going to, so thank you --- Learning to design the sound artificially to make it sound authentic may take at least as much time and effort as learning to play the real thing --- didn't look at it that way.

Put it this way, I'm like a man missing a leg and I know I can't grow a new one. I just want an artificial leg that will allow me to do everything a 2-legged man can. I will still have a disability that will show in my work (unless I get pro musicians to perform the parts I write for them), but I want to find a limb that allows me to compete, in the Paralympics at least.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:47 am

Whatever you do, learning to play one (pitched) instrument will pay huge dividends in the future if you want to compose and record. Since you already have some guitar skills (however limited) that's what I would do.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby The Elf » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:23 pm

I'm afraid there's no wriggling around it - you will need to begin to apply yourself to some sort of melodic/chordal instrument to approach the 'realistic' parts to which you aspire.

A keyboard is probably the easiest option. Actually 'playing' a keyboard is not such a big deal - any deficiencies in that department can be mitigated with a bit of techical jiggery - but just grasping how chords and scales are mapped across a keyboard will set you up with the proper foundations.

In the time from your first post in this thread and me typing here you could have been taught the fundamentals of music theory and be well on your way - it isn't as difficult as I suspect you think it is!
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby garrettendi » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:25 pm

The Elf wrote:In the time from your first post in this thread and me typing here you could have been taught the fundamentals of music theory and be well on your way - it isn't as difficult as I suspect you think it is!

:thumbup: for this.

People think music theory is hard, and yes if you study to Beethoven proportions it is... But the fundamentals are incredibly simple, and will get the level of knowledge that the Beatles had.

And we all know how well they did!
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby John Egan » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:53 pm

[quote="JordanBeats"

Hi All

My dream scenario would be having access to a wide range of realistic sounding instruments, sounds and parts (guitars, bass and others), which I can fully customise into my songs in terms of chords, articulation, strumming, soloing, tempo etc etc.
[/quote]

Hi Jordan Beats,
In addition to making an effort to improve your musical theory as per the excellent suggestions above, I think it might be worth looking at Band In A Box software. It is possible to use this as a serious learning tool as well as to generate decent MIDI parts, which can be customised.
Regards John Egan
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby OneWorld » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:56 pm

It seems the considered opinion here is to learn the keyboards, the layout is more logical and a 'keyboard sound' (depending on which instrument eg piano vs synth) is much easier to achieve.

If you're hoping do you searing guitar solos, then hmm - as the old joke goes when a lost person asks "How do I get to the Albert Hall? - Practice Practice Practice"

Consider real instruments alongside artificial instruments, what person has the ability to be a virtuoso on the piano then walk from the piano and pick up a guitar and perform equally impressively? There are some, but very few - Stevie Wonder et al But these people are geniuses. However, an interesting yarn. Once when Stevie Wonder was asked which he thought was his best song he immediately replied "That'll be my next one"

But if you want to just drop a guitar into your music and maybe do a little catchy guitar solo, then an artificial guitar can do a great job, all depending on how it sits in the mix etc.

I do agree about the unconvincing guitars in Halion, and they are neither better or worse than many other offerings that come with softsamplers.

That being said I did a few tunes that featured a jazzy Les Paul solo and a friend of mine who is an extremely well skilled guitarist was convinced it was the real thing. That being said I am a guitarist, so fully aware of what an artificial guitar should emulate.

I used to use a free soft sampler called Yellow Tools Independence, and even though I had tried Gigastudio, Kontakt, Halion, I hung on to YTI simply because the Spanish Guitar it had was exemplary.

As others have mentioned, learn musical theory. I know it's 'old fashioned' but the sun rising in the East each morning is old fashioned too, but even given the ancientness of it all - it seems to work ok!

Another friend of mine who could sort of get a few notes out of the bass joined a band along with myself. He could play it 'sort of' he was also a painter, of the impressionist ilk and he stated any art, music, painting whatever, was all about expression, emotion etc etc etc And using that rationale said he didn't need to learn music at all. He couldn't play by ear by the ear. So it became clear very very soon, when we played in the group, he was all over the place, anyone else, even if they couldn't read music, you could give a nod and say Cmaj, Gmaj, Amin etc etc

Basic music theory is incredibly easy - so many people seem to go into meltdown when confronted with the dots but I would venture to say almost anyone with but a 5 watt bulb between their ears could get the drift - yes if you get to Beethoven Debussy, Shostakovich et al, it gets more tricky, but even so, they are only using the same 12 notes that anyone else has at their disposal when playing Western Music.

The keyboard makes that learning so much easier. With the guitar, and some other instruments you have both the physical effort to get the thing to make a sound, especially when it gets to bar chords, plus you have to learn to play the instrument itself, as you would a piano, plus you have to learn music. As mentioned I am a guitarist and I did do music theory but when I decided to study music at a higher level, at college, as a mature student, we were made to play piano, and I am so glad of that, it made understanding the theory so much easier - even I could understand it!

And if you are ever stuck, as you might have already seen, this site is invaluable for both the helpfulness and the exceptionally informed and knowledgeable contributors here only too happy to help.
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby blinddrew » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:56 pm

definitely not a 'solution', but something to think about, is Jamorigin's midi guitar. I bought this a month or so ago (thank you bonus!) and I've been very impressed with it. I'm no keyboard player but some stuff is still easier to bang in on the keyboard, however as soon as it gets more complex (or I start capo-ing at silly points) then i've found this to be quite useful.
I will write up a user review at some point but I haven't really used it enough yet (as opposed to just playing around with it).
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Re: Kontakt 5, AmpleSound (or Library vs Instrument) - SAVE ME!!!

Postby JordanBeats » Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:03 am

I can’t thank you all enough for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. Nothing is more beautiful than kindness.
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