Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5 Stars
Painstakingly programming an orchestral score one instrument and section at a time can be excruciatingly slow — by the time you get to the triangle part, you’ll probably have lost the will to live. Fortunately, there is an easier way: VSL’s new Synchron Smart Orchestra (20.17GB installed) takes the donkey work out of MIDI programming by providing pre‑orchestrated tutti ensembles, percussion, choir, harp and a suite of lead instruments in one convenient package.
Not to be confused with Vienna Smart Orchestra (recorded in VSL’s Silent Stage studio space), Synchron Smart Orchestra was entirely recorded in the large hall acoustic of the Synchron Stage. The ensembles and percussion are taken from existing VSL libraries Synchron Duality Strings, Big Bang Orchestra Altair (brass), BBO Neptune (woodwinds), BBO Ganymede (choirs) and Synchron Percussion I, while the flute, oboe, clarinet and trumpet solo instruments are all‑new recordings specifically created for this product.
There are two main presets: ‘Tutti’ features a keyboard split of ensembles in the C2‑C6 range with unpitched percussion mapped to D6‑C8, while ‘Tutti & Solo’ substitutes a choice of solo instruments for the percussion. You can also play the solo instruments over their full ranges. Both preset types come in three dynamic configurations which offer a choice of velocity or mod wheel dynamic control.
The tutti ensembles blend each orchestral family into a single playable unit with instruments voiced in octaves, creating a set of classic orchestral textures: at the low end, ominous octave cellos and basses, blasting trombones and tubas and the menacing low growl of contrabassoon and bass clarinet, with the high register handled by octave violins, trumpets and French horns, three flutes and a piccolo. All ensembles play long and short notes, and the strings also perform tremolo and pizzicato styles.
SSO’s ensembles are augmented by a mixed‑voice SATB choir of 48 singers singing the immortal lyric ‘ah’ and a great set of timpani played with medium mallets. Also included are the beautiful Synchron harp and a very pretty celeste, with the aforementioned percussion hits and rolls covering orchestral essentials. The icing on the cake are the seven legato instruments’ long notes, tailored for melodic work. For string top lines there’s an ensemble of 14 violins, while 10 cellos work a treat for emotive midrange melodies. The solo woodwinds, trumpet and French horn are also excellent, perfectly in tune and a pleasure to play.
A great tool for sketching, and an inspirational set of sounds.
Put this all together and you’ll hear some wonderful rich timbres. My personal favourite is the ‘Orchestra + Violins’ combo, a perfect vehicle for heart‑stirring romantic themes; add the choir, and you have instant lavish, large‑scale musical drama. The beauty is that all possible combinations are available within one preset, courtesy of VSL’s ingenious keyswitching system. A great tool for sketching, and an inspirational set of sounds.