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Embertone Joshua Bell violin

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tack
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Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby tack » Aug 25, 2017 4:38 pm

I think perhaps the Bohemian is about to get some real competition:

http://www.embertone.com/instruments/jo ... violin.php

It doesn't take the performance player aspects of BV quite to the same degree, but it still looks very playable and expressive, and it sounds quite good to my ears (although it'd be nice to hear it with less reverb).

Should be released soon at $199 USD.

- Jason


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Quasar
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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby Quasar » Aug 30, 2017 2:17 am

Embertone is on of my favorite developers, and I already have their solo strings bundle, but this sounds very good indeed. The transitions between artics appear to be smooth, which isn't always the case with deeply sampled libraries... Look forward to hearing this in the wild after release, in different contexts and environments... Yeah, definitely playing in a huge, empty virtual hall.



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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby The Saxer » Aug 30, 2017 8:48 am

Sounds beautiful! Very playable as far as it's recognizable without self-trying.
Looks nice too serving the articulations on a gold rim china plate :-)


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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby tack » Sep 09, 2017 11:15 pm

I was rewatching this video and at 1:53 I noticed a nice use of aftertouch to trigger the aggressive release. Very cool.

- Jason


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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby tack » Sep 18, 2017 1:30 pm

- Jason


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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby heisenberg » Sep 19, 2017 12:31 am

Really enjoyed the sonic quality of a couple of examples off the product page. No quite as much reverb in those. Corigliano & Hochstatter pieces I thought were revealing.

http://www.embertone.com/instruments/jo ... violin.php

Andrew Stone


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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby Muziksculp » Sep 19, 2017 2:06 am

Great to see Embertone finally release their JB Violin.

I will wait for some walkthrough videos to be posted before purchasing.


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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby tack » Sep 19, 2017 3:15 am

I spent a bit of time fiddling with it tonight (hey-oh!).

First 15 seconds impression was similar to my first few notes on the Bohemian: out of the box, with really no effort, just playing notes on the keyboard and not bothering with CCs, I heard a pretty damn fluid phrase with a compelling tone.

Miscellaneous early observations (and forgive my inclination to compare it to the Virharmonic Bohemian but I see the Bohemian as its closest competitor):

  • Like the Bohemian, dynamics of note transitions can be a little jumpy. Unlike the Bohemian, you can switch JBV to CC control for dynamics, which provides better consistency between notes. In this mode there's no dynamic crossfading (it seems to be volume only) but the next note triggered will play at the dynamic based on the current CC setting.
  • The choice of legato type (bow change vs slur) isn't clever like the Bohemian Performer. It's not modeling an actual performance, tracking how much bow you have left, deciding whether you have enough bow left for a slur or need to change direction, etc. Rather it's based on simple random variation (although you can control the bias of which is preferred). For such a simplistic approach, it's provides sufficient variation to avoid the major pitfalls of virtual violins and, as with the Bohemian, can of course be overridden by keyswitch. There is some other tweakable randomness involved as well to increase humanization, improving the believability of the performance without the need to fiddle with CCs.
  • Vibrato flexibility is quite nice. With vibrato CC above the half way point, the normal vibrato performance of Joshua Bell is played back and at that point vibrato is locked in for the sample. However if the note is triggered when the vibrato CC is below half, then it switches to a simulated vibrato based on a non-vib sample, at which point the vibrato CC can be used to control vibrato arbitrarily during the note. These two styles blend amazingly well -- i.e. much of the time not completely, jarringly obvious when you have a note with synthetic vibrato and then play another note (with CC above midway) with JB's sampled vibrato. Sometimes it is, when the simulated vibrato is at full throttle, but when it's tamed a bit (CC around 75%) the transition to JB's actual vibrato is surprisingly smooth. To the extent that it isn't, it shouldn't be too difficult to tweak after the fact. Although playing the low G molto vibrato is somehow a little disconcerting. :)
  • Keyswitch/performance customization is very extensive.
  • Transition between con sordino and normale is wonky. It's applying a filter (convolution perhaps?) but it glitches with a bit of a pop if you toggle con sord while a sample is still ringing out. I suppose this isn't much of an issue in practice given that a live player is hardly going to slip on the mute mid-note.
  • I have noticed some situations when playing with vibrato slider at 0, sometimes the vibrato sample plays anyway. It looks like a bug.
  • Many more articulations and styles out-of-the-box compared to Bohemian, and at a lower price point. Apart from articulations to help with phrasing (short/long crescendo, short/long diminuendo, short/long contours where you crescendo into diminuendo, slide-in portamento [upward only], and different types of rebowing), there's recorded trills (which are also fairly playable with the immediate legato type), tremolo, harmonics, ricochet (both single and multi) in addition to standard staccato and spiccato, as well as pizz. But there are also some recorded articulations played sul ponticello and sul tasto at multiple dynamics. Not quite the same number as with normale, but some noteworthy mentions are tremolo, ricochet and pizzicato played sul pont, and "super flautando" played sul tasto, which is a really interesting, hollow sound that's legitimately flute-like at piano. [Edit: Just learned that the sul pont shorts are modeled. They sound pretty good in spite of that.]
  • The portamento is tasteful and not over-exaggerated like in other violin VIs.

Overall I must say, at first blush this is a remarkable library for $179 USD (the current price given the intro discount).

- Jason



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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby Luciano Storti » Sep 19, 2017 1:57 pm

Thanks for the comprehensive first impression Jason, really great rundown! I was an early adopter of the Violin (still waiting for the Cello to have that same fluidity). I'm cringing at the idea of buying yet another Violin, despite its apparent pedigree. Problem for me with the Bohemian as it is now, sometimes I'm still at the mercy of its performance engine, even with overriding keyswitches. I can't always get the exact performance I want. It sounds like the JB Violin may be a good degree more flexible in that regard, at the slight cost of believability, if I read you correctly?

Just a piano and some sketch paper please...
Luke


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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby tack » Sep 19, 2017 3:45 pm

Luciano Storti wrote:It sounds like the JB Violin may be a good degree more flexible in that regard, at the slight cost of believability, if I read you correctly?
That was my first impression, yeah. What the actual value of that relative improvement in believability is, I can't say.

Let me elaborate by way of example.

The Bohemian samples up an down bows separately, and the Performer understands (usually) during a phrase which direction the bow must go next. (This can be overridden by keyswitches, but out of the box it works pretty well.)

JBV isn't quite so clever, and doesn't have separate samples for up/down bows (at least not in a way that can be controlled like on the Bohemian), but its randomness/humanization functions still sound pretty convincing to me, even if perhaps they are less correct than the Bohemian (?). Maybe someone more familiar with phrasing on string instruments will more clearly hear the difference, but to my ears the most important aspect is variation and smooth transitions, which JBV does pretty well. A violinist might be able to immediately spot the sound of two adjacent full down bows and call shenanigans, but I'm not quite there myself. :)

I think the very fact that we're talking about these details is an indication of how far solo violin VIs have come in the past couple years.

- Jason



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Re: Embertone Joshua Bell violin

Postby Luciano Storti » Sep 19, 2017 4:48 pm

Thanks Jason. Good explanation.

Certainly, you are right about how far these Vln VI's have come. In addition to the high believability of the Bohemian, the greatest appeal lies in its ability to take that responsibility away from the VI performer. This is a great feat and for me, often times a drawback as well. It works great when I'm trying to get better phrasing on top of an existing Vln section with the Bohemian, but I don't find myself wanting to reach for it when writing for quartet-like situations of delicate intimacy; hence the continued interest in other tools. It's likely my personal reticence with BV, also due to a full quartet still pending - very much looking forward to that.

Just a piano and some sketch paper please...

Luke



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