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Howdy, All,

On 17 July 2019, I lost my custom-built computer (it was consumed in the fire which burnt down my house). The computer ran Windows 7, Finale 2014* , most of the Garritan libraries, and used a Lynx 2 sound card, which, while excellent, is no longer in production.

I compose large orchestral-choral works which use immense amounts of ram, require immense amounts of memory, and in which extreme quality of sound is always a requirement.  I do not intend make live recordings with my new computer, but I do intend to write many more large orchestral-choral works and use Finale/Garritan to achieve recordings that, as closely as possible, sound like a real orchestra playing my music in a real symphony hall.

I seek advice about professional level, exquisite sound quality sound cards. What are people using in their systems, and how so?

Thank you for your time and interest.

Sincerely,

T.W. Davidson

Note: I will have a full size MIDI keyboard connected to a MIDISPORT 4x4 which will be connected to my computer, with RCA/XLR connections to the stereo system that plays the Finale scores/recordings.

*My computer did not satisfactorily run Finale post 2014.5.  Also, I noticed that certain sound stage features and instrumental sounds that came with Finale 2014 are not in later versions of Finale.  For these reasons, I feel Finale 2014 is the best version of Finale extant, at least for me.

 

 

 

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Tad:  I am quite saddened by this horrible event in your life and hope you can recover from this. 

Enrique

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Thank you for your kind words.

TWD

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Thad:  I switched from a regular internal sound card to a USB module that has worked fantastically: it's a PreSonus Audiobox USB96 - Creative Soundblasters just didn't hack it anymore for me.  And there are many other brands like Focusrite, Behringer... But I moved to Finale 26.1 lately and last year bought the EastWest Symphony Orchestra for my sounds, and ramped up to 16g ram.  Which has improved the fidelity significantly.  Not all at once, mind you.  But it's the best move I've made in years.  I also write for full orchestra.

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Enrique,

Thank you for your input.  Some questions, if I may, about your system and how you have it set up. 

(I am literally having to create a new music composition studio from scratch.  My old one, while not perfect, was pretty decent.  A computer built eight years ago that, for that period, was as powerful and fast as I could make it.  I eventually ran Windows 7, a Lynx 2 internal soundcard (which was excellent), an external Marantz Ruby SACD/CD/DAC (I used the DAC via USB to the computer), a 4x4 Midi box, a Roland and then a Technics 88-key velocity sensitive keyboard (the latter of which was excellent), most of the Garritan sound libraries, Finale 2014.5, Windows 7, and a high-end stereo system of a McIntosh amplifier and a Balanced Audio Technology preamp.)

Did you have any issues getting the EastWest Symphony Orchestra patches to play in Finale, and with excellent sound quality?

How do you have your MIDI keyboard connected to your computer/Finale and vice-versa?

Do you use a separate DAW program (such as Pro Tools) at some point in your audio chain?

Do you use the hard drives in your computer to store your compositions/recordings, or do you also, or separately, save them to external devices or by some method into an internet Cloud?

Regarding your PreSonus Audiobox USB96, does that device have an optical port output/input to your computer, or is it strictly USB?

Thank you for your time and advice on this.  I built my original composition studio years ago with the help of a computer person and musician, and would not have been able to do so (because I lacked the knowledge and technical expertise) without his guidance.  I know much more know, but am concerned about spending lots of money needlessly, and would prefer to spend money wisely and build a system that is top-notch and will last a very long time.

I would be delighted to share some of my compositions and scores with you, if you are interested.  I of course no longer have the Finale files they were written on, but I do have PDF files of some of my scores, and WAV/MP3 recordings of same, and many of them sound very much like live recordings (although it took years of tinkering and experimentation in Finale for me to do this). Below are three orchestral-choral works I wrote in the past year, as well as a piano work I wrote a long time ago.

https://soundcloud.com/user-907807594/the-point-of-it-all

https://soundcloud.com/user-907807594/brand-new-day-lyrics-revision

https://soundcloud.com/user-907807594/through-this-night-second-movement

https://soundcloud.com/user-907807594/the-ache-of-your-absence

T.W. Davidson

ThadJustice@gmail.com

329 S. Fannin Ave., Tyler, TX  75702

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thad,

 

Just some food for thought.

 

If you upgrade to the latest Finale, version 26, a playback option is Note Performer. Here's a link to an overview of Note Performer.

https://www.scoringnotes.com/reviews/noteperformer-3-1/ 

 

IMO, the playback is much better than Garritan. It comes with a new Human Playback preference file and works just as easily as Garritan, much easier than using East-West. It also has a 30 day free trial.

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Mr. Turner, 

Thank you for the input.  

In my previous composition computer, I ran Windows 7 and Finale 2014 and Finale 2014.5, but settled on Finale 2014.  I tried Finale 25 but it would not function--the sequencer would not play at all, and no sounds would be produced--in my computer. No one at Finale could cure this, despite serious efforts.

Even if Finale 25 had worked, however, I noticed that Finale versions post 2014.5 (that I've looked at) deleted the Garritan Personal Orchestra Ambience function within the greater VST Banks & Effects function. I thought this was a poor decision by Finale, given that (after years of practice, tinkering and exploration) I had finally managed to learn and "tune" the Ambience function to create very realistic sound stages for my compositions. This feature came in particularly handy in regard to my orchestral-choral works over the last few years.

Another issue I observed with later versions of Finale (against, the ones I've looked at) was that a number of instrument patches had been deleted which were present in Finale 2014 or earlier versions of Finale.  Again, I thought this was a bad decision by Finale. Why in the world would Finale delete instrument patches?  I want as many instrument patches as possible, and I want all of them to sound like genuine (high quality) music instruments playing in a real (and tailorable) music environment, whether a concert hall, symphony hall, church, cathedral, etc.  

When I get my new computer built and up and running, I will take a look at Finale 26 and Note Performer and explore both. I am not stuck on using Finale 2014 for the rest of my life, however, and by a considerable margin, I found it to be the best version of Finale in my previous computer, for the reasons stated above.

Thank you for your note.

T.W. Davidson

 

 

 

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I wish you luck in your journey. I do share your quest for the best possible playback files. I made the move to using a DAW for my final mp3's. I use different sample libraries, mostly Spitfire for my personal projects as well as having a few different reverb plugins, EW Spaces II & Fab Filter Pro-R. It's truly amazing what tools composers have at their disposal now.

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