I have Finale 25.5 on Windows 10. The Garratin sounds included do not sound at all realistic. Is there a fundamental difference in the sounds compared to Personal Orchestra? Are the included sounds "sampled" or synthesized? I am using the Aria player and set up the sounds, but they all sound like electric organ-type.
If you are dissatisfied with the quality, you have to expect to put more money on the table.
Furthermore you have to look after a library which provides HP preferences. I can tell you from my own experiences it is a lot of work to make good working and sounding virtual instruments. Perharps you have heared of the Xsample AI Library. I'm the founder of Xsample.
As Hans says, if you want more modern and feature rich libraries the price starts climbing fast. Even the best and most expensive libraries take practice and understanding to know how to use them. Even a $4,000 sample library can still end up sounding like a 'fake band in box' if it's not implemented well by the people making the score (or sequence in the case of a tracking DAW).
The GIFF (Garritan Instruments for Finale) library is a subset of Personal Orchestra 5. Everything you hear in GIFF also comes with GPO5. GPO5 is quite similar, but you just get 'more' of it. I.E. More variety in players and sections. More articulations. Section building tools with overlays, etc. More harps and organs with some extra console options. Separate Standard and Notation instrument layouts (where GIFF just gives you the notation layout).
The Garritan stuff that comes with Finale are sampled, and dynamics/filtering are applied by the ARIA Player (based on codec instructions in text based sfz files, which you can alter yourself if required - plus velocity and/or CC events from your score/sequence). For the price-range....despite some fixable quirks in some of the sfz files (range issues, how the samples are triggered, loop points, and dynamic treatment of the sample over time), Garritan is still a very fine library for the price range. In my opinion, it's still the best in its price range due to the sheer number/variety of instruments (the staple orchestra stuff, plus very nice pianos, harps, and organs).
The samples are 'dry' (made in sound-proof lab with zero ambiance for the mics), but they are very real and the samples themselves are very fine quality, of some of the best and rarest acoustical instruments on the planet. Being dry samples, one can apply them to any style of music, and build whatever ambient stage he wants. You are not 'stuck' with whatever stage/arena the sample were made in.
Garritan libraries (other than the pianos and harps) are not super complicated things of many velocity or cross-fading layers. They are simple and lean running (few system resources required), and will work well for many staves, even on older/slower hardware.
It takes a little practice and work to learn to make Garritan Libraries sound their best. Read the manual for the Garritan Sounds specifically to get some ideas on how the instruments were designed to be played and mixed.
1. You'll want to practice setting the sound stage and applying EQ and reverb. ARIA has a couple of decent reverb engines included, and each instrument gets a 3 band shelved EQ with an adjustable mid-range notch. Some of the included instruments also provide mic simulation choices, and a more 3d panning system.
2. You'll want to be familiar with all the sounds in the library, and the characteristics of each one so you pick the right ones for the musical passage at hand, as there are dozens of 'players' and 'sections' for each family of instruments to choose from. Some instruments provide various articulations or playing styles that can be toggled via key-switches (one needs to learn how to teach a score to use them). There are many solo and tutti choices in the box (the default setup is not always the best for every situation). They can also be layered and blended through channel matching in ARIA, or by duplicating staves in Finale (one can hide the staves that are just for complimentary play-back purposes). I.E. That tutti violin 1 section might not quite do the job on its own, but adding a couple of solo instruments at lower volumes can help define the section, and bring out articulations better. Overlay instruments can add 'depth' and stereo 'spread' to the orchestra.
Each Garritan Sound can also be shaped in its instrument slot, and one can build many variations out of a single instrument using timed envelopes, notch filtering, and EQ. Swapping among the variations can be done by bouncing channels among them from inside Finale. I.E. One can simulate concepts like Up/Down bowing. Build various techniques for ideas like martele, sautelli, spaccato, etc.
3. It takes practice with Finale's Human Playback and MIDI Tool system. The out of the box defaults aren't all that great for every tempo and style of music. There are many controls in the ARIA player that can be altered via MIDI automation embedded in your score to add/alter more realistic human playing characteristics to a part.
4. Third party effects can be used in Finale's mixer. I strongly recommend finding some simple EQ and Compression plugins to help get a more detailed control over the mix. I.E. Use an multi-band compressor to bring specific frequency ranges more to the foreground and keep them there, or push them back on the sound stage. Here's a great set of free ones to start with (no nag-ware...clean virus free installers):
Thank you so much for that amazing, detailed reply! I just wanted a concert band score to sound "real", not synthesized. I hoped the Garritan sounds and ARIA player would have default instruments to accomplish this. Since the sounds are sampled, I suppose I will just have to spend the time to learn how to do this. It seems that the ARIA player is what I need to learn vs the Finale player. Thanks again!
Concert band Libraries........
There are not that many of them out there, and they are a bit different concept from Orchestral libraries. Sections are typically much bigger, and blend differently. They also tend to sit in different orders, tune a little differently, and play in different keys, etc. When doing serious mock-ups, all that stuff comes into play.
Nothing sounds more fake to me than a wind ensemble mock-up that is using equal tempered tuning ;) There are ways to fix this sort of thing in a mock-up, but it ain't simple, and it ain't automatic. ARIA supports scalia files for making custom tuning systems. That part is simple. The complexity comes in if a piece changes keys alot and such....hence it can require several instances of ARIA set up to different tuning systems...and bouncing about between the instances when needed. Another option is 'micro tuning'....PITA...but possible.
I have Garritan's Concert and Marching Band Library (some parts of this are included in GIFF as well). Of course I can still tell it's made with a computer unless I move the project to a tracking DAW and put quite a bit of time into it (and possibly play in some tracks with a mix of real instruments), but it does make life easier for sketching up a composite. We all need things like sousas, mellophones, baritones, euphoniums, etc. And all the 'school percussion' for marching and concert bands really comes in handy. Not many libraries out there that have these things period (at any quality)....and the Concert and Marching Band Library isn't all that expensive.
For me, it's worth it (I use Finale, Sibelius, and Dorico all three...plus Cubase, depending on what clients prefer) since I do a good bit of arranging for small and weird bands....they want a mock-up that's decent enough to hand to color guard instructors and stuff well before the camps get underway. It's good enough for that....
David, I had a similar issue and found out it wasn't the sounds - it was how I had things set up.
All my sound libraries showed as being installed, but I still heard that synthesizer. So I went back over the step by step audio / midid set up and sure enough, something wasn't right.
My problem was partly not understanding that each document ("score") has its own set up -- so when sounds aren't as expected I have to go look at the score manager and see if all the elements needed are in fact listed correctly.
I'm so new to this that I'm still setting up and discovering things I should have set or a preference dialog that I hadn't seen before that when something sounds wrong I go back to check to be sure that the "path" from the sound through the software to the document to the stave is all lined up. Including Priority Map, making sure I've selected the instruments, that each instrument is represented by the sound from the library I want to use. I check it out by playing a few notes on the keyboard.
When I had the synthesizer problem I found that it was listed first in the Priority sound Map -- so it was selected over the other libraries.
Thanks. I understand the Priority sound map and selecting vst over midi, and need to use ARIA. I'm disappointed that there is not a default setup for ARIA Garratin instruments, each track having to be set up individually. And just putting in a scale, the instruments don't sound real. I'll keep trying.
I'm with you! Especially since Garritan and Finale are siblings... At least the set that comes with Finale ought to be auto-installed with a default setup -- then when you have time you can learn the ins and outs of making changes to the arrangements of sound+instrument per stave links.
Ideally every Garritan sound library would install with a default configuration so you could switch between entire libraries at once -- then learn to pick and choose your instruments from the various libraries when you have time to learn it.
I'd think it would help their marketing if you could run the installers and start putting in notes with decent sound the same day.
The default installation could work like the toolbars in apps -- there's a standard set of things present when installed, but you can take some out or add in others later. I never keep the print icon in my word processors - or anywhere really. Once that keystroke combo is memorized, the space in the tool bar can be used for something else.
When Finale shipped with the legacy GPO4 strings as the defaults, the strings sounded way better out of the box. In the rush to get a major 64bit upgrade, and the GPO5 subset of new sounds to market, they didn't choose the default sounds so wisely, or really tweak it out well. With the right HP filters back in place, and the legacy strings, it's better without a lot of extra user intervention.
It's possible to change things up a bit in a couple of txt/xml files and get different defaults. No time right this second, but I'll try to come back and walk you through it.
Thank you Brian for you offer to help. I want to work more with band sounds, and the first sounds I became unhappy with were piccolo and flute. I will probably keep Finale, now understanding the sounds are sampled rather than synthesized, but am unhappy they did not set up defaults on the ARIA player which seems what one should use with the Garratin sounds. I will try to learn what HP filters are and what other techniques are needed to make the sample sound "realistic", but won't recommend Finale to anyone. I had the ancient version 1, so had a $79 upgrade deal. Probably Sibelius would have been the better choice if cost was not an object. Combined with Finale cancelling the scanning feature, they really aren't very pro-user.
If you are using Play Finale Through VST/Audio Units, your documents should default to the Garritan sounds. You should not have to manually assign these. If this is not what you are seeing on your end, please submit a case with us as most likely there could be an underlying issue causing this.
Brian R. (thanks for posting all that great info by the way!) is correct that it will take a bit of tweaking to get a more realistic, natural performance. The Garritan sounds are very dry and need to be approached as such. Adding processing like EQ and reverb will certainly help when using very dry samples like the Garritan sounds as this will help the instruments sit together more realistically. There are other real-time tweaks that can be made to the instruments, as well, using MIDI CC data. Some of which you can control in Finale but can be easier to work with in a DAW. If a very life-like performance is needed, in some cases, it may be better to finish production of these tracks in a DAW, as Brian had also mentioned.
At it 's heart, Finale is an engraving program and this is what it is best at. DAW programs are dedicated towards audio production and offer more options for this type of work. It's always good practice to use the best tool for your situation.
Thank you for your response David. I am really confused. Why is the ARIA player included if it is not better with the Garritan sounds sounds than the Finale VST player? Am I to assume that if I cannot get realistic sounds with the "Garritan Instruments for Finale" setting I won't do any better with ARIA? I have only a week or so to return Finale and get a refund, so I really need to know. If there is a sample full concert band sample file that I can test, I would greatly appreciate getting it. To be clear, I am NOT looking for some totally realistic performance that will fool the most knowledgeable listener. I want band/orchestra instrument sounds that do not sound like an electronic organ/synthesizer. I have not been able to achieve this.
The Plogue ARIA Engine is used to play back Garritan Libraries. Many years ago Garritan changed from the Native Instrument's Player to Plogue's.
I have experience with Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, MuseScore, and more...
They all have a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to getting a realistic mockup. Once you learn the basics, it's not terribly difficult, but there is a break-in period where one gains perspective on how plugins work in relation to how the system 'interprets' a score.
In my opinion, Finale still leads the pack when it comes to having 'power tools' for detailed playback (score interpretation). It has the better groove engine (once one learns to use it). It has a bit steeper learning curve figuring it all out, not necessarily the best and most intuitive UI, but under the hood...it's highly capable.
I wish I could sit down with you a couple of hours and help you build some templates........if you do end up keeping Finale, keep in touch here, and I'll see what I can do to help you get a decent concert band sound. I think there are some sample scores for large wind ensembles shipped with Finale....that might be a good place to start.
I'm pretty sure most if not all of it is 'close' to 44.1k at the source but I can't promise this. I would not be surprised if it does not have some kind of non-standard/Plogue-specific lossy based floating bit-rate as part of the copy protection scheme. Floating bit technologies exist that allow recording to kick in a higher sample rates when needed (according to various psycho-acoustic theories and equations), and drop back to lower ones when not.
I've pulled some of the samples into AudaCity before (import them as raw data) to get an idea of better loop points for a few of the samples in GPO. In those cases, I seem to recall they were stereo samples at somewhere 'close' to 44.1k. I don't remember the endians and all...I tried things till they were clean enough to locate better loop points.
I didn't pay much attention to the actual pitch, but I notice it seemed a bit off, certainly not as clean and pure as when being played by Aria...so it's possible they were 44.1k...being an oboe sound, I wouldn't have noticed any difference in the quality/characteristic of the sample from 44.1 to 48k without grabbing a tuner (which I did not do).
They seem to be a bit out of phase somehow in their raw form, and as part of the encryption scheme, they might even use some 'oddball' sample rate that is totally 'non-standard'...heck, it might even modulate among multiple sample rates a bit....but ARIA corrects this in real time for properly registered libraries, so no, it's not easy, or even worth-while to use something like sox and convert the library to some other format/rate. They are 'slightly encrypted'....it's enough to do the copy-protection job. If you ever need to expand or rework a Garritan sample (for your own creative purposes), it's better to just resample it playing through ARIA. I personally do this with 'instant render' in CuBase, but one can 'bounce' things around in a DAW that cannot instant render.
ARIA itself can work with a wide variety of formats (wav, aif, ogg, flac, mp3, etc.), rates, and bit-widths, and it has the technologies in place to resample in real-time to match whatever your sound-device is set for. It even works with the newer 'floating bit rate' lossy schemes included in the latest ogg and mpeg protocols. As far as I know, it is even possible to build an instrument (sfz) composed of samples using a variety rates/formats/etc. in the 'same instrument'.
Brian, Thanks for your detailed answer. I agree that resampling while playing through ARIA sounds best. Have you tried resampling Garritan sounds at a higher sampling rate than 44.1 k? I want the highest quality sounds to use in my projects. This might be a bit off topic, but I'm hoping to use Aria player to load Ableton and Logic Pro X instruments so that Finale could play them.
No. In this case, unless you're also running this stuff through some kind of unusual effect chain for the target re-sample, that for some unknown reason pleases your ears more at higher settings, personally I don't see any obvious or common advantage to re-sampling at anything above 48k, nor do I see any advantage to going above 16bits. The samples are already as good as they are going to get in terms of making an accurate snapshot of whatever Gary Garritan was hearing, and recorded at the time of production....you can't really add any more data about the original sound, nor can you add dynamic range (though you can alter and reshape the dynamics of various frequency ranges using plugins such as compressors/limiters, envelope generators, eq, filters/boosters, etc.).
For what it's worth, I typically find myself spending more time 'compressing' things ARIA to where I want them in the mix than I do trying to preserve large dynamic ranges. Loud speakers don't work like real concert halls. It takes a lot of psycho-acoustic 'tricks' to 'fool people' into thinking they are hearing something realistic and accurate, yet pleasing. Plus, target audiences tend to be listening on crappy speakers and ear-buds......so......you'll usually end up crunching dynamics and filtering/boosting various harmonics to clean up the 'mud' in a mix anyway.
I'm a bit old-school, and still work in 44.1k quite often since I'm constantly syncing older gear that uses that clock rate (SPDIF interfaces for things like my Fantom XR, Boss Multi-track, etc.) I don't have really nice mics and preamps to consider, and don't do much 'live recording' from the affordable mics that I do have straight into the DAW. In my classrooms and recitals and such, I tend to use the old BOSS multi-tracker for live recording, which works at 44.1k. If and when I need it, I can easily pull stuff from that into my DAW. 44.1k is good enough for me and the types of recordings I typically do. It's perfect for 98% of my projects, since I mostly work with virtual instruments, or old bits of out-board kit connected via SPDIF/ADAT/Etc.
For me personally, 16bit source tracks and samples are just fine if there are not any nice mics, with equally nice pre-amps that are ultra sensitive to dynamic range involved. I've been working with 16bit stuff in tandem with budget mics/preamps so long....and know what to do to avoid noise and artifacts that 99.9% of the human population can't hear anyway.
For convenience, I do tend to leave my PC's audio interface at 24bits though, and let my DAW use this as well if I have a mic hooked to it and just need to make some quick tracks. Personally, I end up mastering in 24bit, then dithering something of a sharable product to 16bit mp3 or ogg for clients and such the majority of the time...I kind of like the way it sounds on stuff like ipods, phones, cheap computer speakers, etc....which is what clients and collaborators tend to hear it on.
If it's a 'really important' mock-up that needs to be as close as perfect as possible upon delivery, I 'sometimes' take my setup to a decent sound room, borrow/rent a decent monitoring system, and do my final master mixes with the audio device set to MUCH higher sample rates, then re-encode the resulting file to something lower...but this is purely due to the average quality, and aging DAC chips and audio circuitry in my particular interface sounding better and giving a little cleaner translation that way (something about the extra voltage hitting the circuitry when the chipset is asked to run faster)....in my case, it actually has NOTHING to do with all the extra samples. When I jack that sample rate up like that....the source tracks, and obviously sample content from virtual instruments were typically made at MUCH lower sample and bit rates.
These days, when re-sampling stuff like a Garritan sound, it might make more sense to some people to go with 48k @ 16bits, as that's the more modern standard for streaming and/or syncing with video. Files will be a little bigger on the hard-drive than they would @ 44.1k
Really, it's not a big deal either way though. Which-ever you go with, it'll get decoded, resampled, and scaled to whatever it needs to match your audio device's settings.
Here is a summary of my thinking on the specific task of resampling sounds from the majority of Garritan Libraries played through ARIA:
1. Anything above 16bit dynamic range for this particular task isn't necessary.
2. 44.1, or 48k sample rates should be fine. If you work at either of these rates often when doing sessions/projects, go with the one that you use most often, as that might help you save a cpu cycle or two (that would be spent re-sampling) and possibly run smaller audio buffers and end up with less latency. If you typically work with your main/best audio-interface set to something well above both of these settings, go with 44.1 to save the disk space and stream/bus bandwidth load.
3. If you do record at sample rates above 48k on a regular basis, do it on modern hardware with plenty of bandwidth for things like disk-transfer. More samples means larger files....more data has to be streamed from disk, or put into memory to stream from there, etc. If you're on budget hardware with average specs for these sorts of things (which can ultimately be more important than raw CPU power), save your high sample rate stuff for the last stages of the project...I.E. Those last bounces to a final mix, or even the polishing 'mastering phase'. You typically don't need really high sample rates for recording the source material unless you have REALLY NICE mics and preamps and top of the line A/D converters in your audio interface going on; plus, a set of ears that can hear two slugs kissing from a mile away; and finally, a really good sound room with excellent monitors that you know like the back of your hand (how they will translate to average sound-systems in the end)..........
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