The Joshua Bell Violin by Embertone

October 8, 2017, 5:26 AM · This is the Joshua Bell violin with Joshua Bell playing the sounds. The realism is scary.

http://www.embertone.com/instruments/joshuabellviolin.php

I am considering buying this as a reference and for those times when I want to record something I can't play on violin but can be played on keys.

I'm already set up to buy and load it since I have a compatible daw,Kontakt and the necessary keyboards.

For the price it makes a wonderful way to hear articulations as played by Joshua. I might cheat and use it some in my recordings too :0

Thoughts?

Replies (20)

October 8, 2017, 5:37 AM · The really sad thing is that Joshua Bell must have some how consented to have his name used in this merchandise.
October 8, 2017, 5:41 AM · I think he likely gets a percentage of each sale.
October 8, 2017, 6:12 AM · Pays for that Strad????
Edited: October 8, 2017, 7:30 AM · What Embertone have evidently been doing is sampling Joshua Bell's sound in enormous detail. This is essentially little different to what the electronic piano manufacturers do when they want the authentic sound of a concert grand - they sample the sound of a real piano, and who plays it is neither here nor there - it wouldn't matter if it were a ranking soloist or someone who had just got their grade 8, the sampling would be the same.

Not so with the violin. The violin is infinitely more personal than a piano, the violinist interacting with the instrument and originating the sound in a manner unique to them, so Embertone used a famous violinist and his violin to produce the sound samples they needed for a well-honed product. (What else could they have done - used me?) I therefore have no objections to a great violinist putting his name to this product, and presumably getting a financial reward for his professional input into what must have been a lengthy sampling process.

October 8, 2017, 11:18 AM · Menuhin used his name to endorse a shoulder pad which he did not use.
Edited: October 8, 2017, 4:41 PM · If athletes can fatten their wallets promoting products they don't use, why not pro violinists?

Wow that thing sounds way better than I expected.

I see that Cubase is a compatible DAW. I know very little about this but eager to learn...

October 8, 2017, 5:45 PM · This is pretty amazing. Listen to the synthesized Mendelssohn concerto excerpt. (You'll note that it doesn't actually sound like Bell in terms of his interpretive affectations, despite the fact that it's apparently Bell's playing and Bell's violin.)

I don't think this is sad at all. I think this allows composers laying down synthesized tracks to get as authentic and beautiful and precisely-determined sound as possible.

October 9, 2017, 8:42 AM · Unlike synthesis, sampling is truly the instrument "sampled" with every complexity and nuance. The better the process the better the sound. Reverb can be added and the samples themselves can be manipulated once printed to a track as a performance.

Embertone has experience in making the Freidlander violin, I believe they've upped the ante here.

For a beginner there is more involved than meets the eye. You need a compatible DAW host and also Kontakt 5. In addition you need an audio interface with well written drivers so there isn't a noticeable lag when playing.You need this for both recording and playback.

In the video they use a Native Instruments keyboard controller made by the same company that makes Kontakt( Native Instruments) pretty much the defacto playback program for large sample libraries.

While not absolutely necessary that controller is made for that software and makes navigating it easier. https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/keyboards/

The Kontakt player inputs the midi you give it from a midi controller and then streams the samples off of a hard disk. Usually separate from the OS HDD.The HDD must be fast enough to retrieve the samples and play them, Not just any HDD will do. Midi makes no sound. It's more like the language the drives the sounds.Been around for ages, but has been implemented better over time.The nice thing about midi is it can be edited.

The DAW host houses Kontakt and takes the midi info from the keyboard controller and feeds it to Kontakt which then directs it to the sampled violin.

Not to make this even more confusing, Kontakt is usually bought as part of a larger package called Komplete.

Buying a controller gives you a basic version of Komplete.

Edited: October 9, 2017, 9:02 AM · So if one already has a MIDI keyboard and Cubase AI, that's not enough? The webpage linked above says,

"This is a Kontakt Player instrument, meaning that you do not need to own the full version of Kontakt to use it! It will run as a plug-in instrument in any VST/AU/RTAS/AAX compatible host program or DAW, such as Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Reaper, Pro-Tools, Sonar, etc. No extra purchase needed!"

Edited: October 9, 2017, 9:25 AM · Kontakt player is a free download here:

https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/samplers/kontakt-5-player/

And check out the viola!

http://www.embertone.com/instruments/fischerviola.php

It's also useful to check out the latest developments in the field of MIDI: https://www.midi.org/

Edited: October 9, 2017, 12:27 PM · "Menuhin used his name to endorse a shoulder pad which he did not use." Fair enough, but as a teacher himself he may well have had in mind students who would find such a shoulder pad useful.

In the case of sports people promoting products that they perhaps don't use themselves or are not relevant to their sporting activity we should remember that the high-earning years in sport for many of them seldom extend much beyond the mid-to-late 30s, so they need to prepare for their financial future while they can.

October 9, 2017, 10:23 AM · @ Paul
"This is a Kontakt Player instrument, meaning that you do not need to own the full version of Kontakt to use it! It will run as a plug-in instrument in any VST/AU/RTAS/AAX compatible host program or DAW, such as Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Reaper, Pro-Tools, Sonar, etc. No extra purchase needed!"

I didn't see this. They must have included the free version of Kontakt. I have always used the paid version. The differences can be found here-
http://realitone.com/faqs/kontakt-versus-kplayer/

The company must pay a fee to NI to get included library status. If they pay the fee the library shows up in the main libraries section of Kontakt. If the company did not pay the fee you simply need to search for the library in the file tree. Not really as bad as it may seem. If you know where you located it simply go there to load the samples.

In any case having the added player is good. I still recommend buying the paid version of Kontakt for it's other benefits, but that's just my opinion. Maybe you won't use the extra features.

October 9, 2017, 2:59 PM · Timothy,

Do you know if this can be purchased as a sound font and plugged into music editing software like Studio One or MuseScore?

I've yet to find a commercial or freeware violin sound font that does the instrument justice for solo work.

Edited: October 10, 2017, 7:24 AM · So far as I know there are no sound fonts for this instrument. Likely since it isn't a set of sound presets or considered a sound bank.

The main instrument is already mapped to a keyboard with articulations to the far left of an 88 key controller usually labeled in pink when looking at the screen visual.Velocity of keys represent loudness.

Kontakt has it's own internal mapping system which can be re arranged if necessary.

If you already own Studio One 3 Professional I highly recommend Notion 6 to write scores.
https://www.presonus.com/products/Notion

Since Presonus own that company integration is very tight with SO3. You could, for instance, use The Joshua Bell violin with it, though it already had a wealth of decent sounding instruments at your disposal.

I usually go from the opposite approach and if I print music it's from music made in Sonar or Studio one. Both are capable to print music from midi compositions.

I suspect most here on v.com come at it the other way and have the score first and THEN proceed to make the music and why I think Notion 6 is an obvious good choice for that :)

Soundfonts are fast going the way of the dodo bird.Midi formats have largely replaced sfz files since sfz was developed mainly for hardware synth sound presets. I mean no ill will toward those who still use it, but it does seem to be going away or confined to a few isolated programs/applications.

Kontakt can be used as a player "shell" to house 16 independent instruments or sections on different midi channels. These shells can be used in multiples, so the possibilities are only as limited as your computer.

Edited: October 13, 2017, 2:07 AM · I know of three virtual violins: from Embertone and from Chris Hein using recorded samples, and Sample Modeling which is entirely synthetic (though their other instruments use small numbers of samples which are cleverly "modelled"), and is the least convincing tonewise.
To get a realistic solo "performance" from any of these needs a good grasp of the real violin, but they all offer amazing control of tone, attack, vibrato etc.
October 10, 2017, 7:49 PM · Notion 6 looks interesting.

I have been scoring things in Musescore and have gotten very proficient at using that program. If I want to do a fancy mix or humanize the playback, I export to Studio One, usually in MIDI format.

Sound fonts seem to be the main instrument simulation method for both unless I am missing something.

Edited: October 13, 2017, 12:15 PM · Carmen, I wouldn't want to discourage you if you use Musescore and are happy with it. I thought maybe Notion 6 might be more helpful since you own Studio One. We tend to get into certain ways of working and it sometimes takes more time than it's worth to change. FWIW Presonus offer a demo trial for Studio One, so I'm guessing they also offer a demo of Notion in case you wanted to try it out for free.

I get what you say about humanizing the midi files.This is one of the drawbacks to some soundfonts IMHO. Since they are basically romplers the sounds are of smaller size and usually in ROM. In contrast samples streamed from a hard drive in real time are much more realistic.

Some soundfont driven players are still pretty good. I have the Korg M-1 in software. Once I had the hardware version.It's probably one of the best romplers ever made in terms of realism. The other benefit to soundfonts of course is the ability to have everything in order lined up with the project so you can get down to business. There's nothing saying you can't create a work in Musescore and later export it to VST or VSTi large sample libraries. As a comparison a violin in a soundfont driven rompler might be at 1mb compared to something like the Joshua Bell Violin that might be streaming 2 gigs of data from an HDD or SSD in real time.

I've heard some pretty incredible things done with the basic Kontakt orchestral library.

Notion probably imports soundfonts, though I don't think this is the main way it's set up to work. It might use old soundfont code under what it calls "templates". These are very handy ways to have a whole orchestra in order to record. This can all get confusing for the casual beginner because we have .sfz developed by Cakewalk for their soft synths and we have soundfonts developed by Emu for their hardware units back in the 90's I think. Later that tech was used as a way to play GM onboard sounds through soundblaster cards.There's sf2 and sf3 to further complicate it all. This all started out as GM but was also augmented by differing standards as adopted by Yamaha and Roland to add expression to their sound modules. So downloading classical works in midi online might mean a person needs to line up their setup with that file or we get pianos playing trumpet parts and drums playing piano parts :)

This isn't really a big problem anymore though since most of it is handled "under the hood" and we never see the complexity of it.Notion 6 comes with an orchestra. It allows loading VSTi like the Joshua Bell violin. We no longer have to bear with those cheesy sounds.

I'm still waiting on what I consider to be the ultimate computer violin, a modeled instrument done much like Modart did with Pianoteq. Modeling an instrument eliminates the load from the computer and still allows a realistic sound.

Edited: October 13, 2017, 2:04 AM · I still have to use soundfonts (.sf2, not .sfz) on my Windows XP laptop.
With a good font, I get a boring but not unpleasant violin sound. (The viola semms identical in all fonts!!).

The equivalent to Pianoteq is Sample-Modeling's violin, viola ,and cello. Their violin is perhaps the least unconvincing: maybe the real violin's near-perfect acoustics are easier to synthesize; I find their viola and cello have a too-clean attack and fingerfall, and insufficient "grain" in the tone. But it is still a remarkable achievement.

October 13, 2017, 6:53 AM · Thanks Adrian. I didn't know about that one. Most sampled violins suffer in the expression area. Unless you have a very expressive controller and know how to use it.

I wanted to clear up a few things I said about soundfonts. Carmen's comments put me on a rabbit trail of sorts in trying to find out how many other programs use soundfonts and if they still qualify as current tech.I didn't want to make any comments that might steer someone in the wrong direction.

Since the soundfonts code is open source it makes a great way to work outside of the Kontakt environment. Now I understand why Musescore uses it since Musescore is free. As it turns out there are still quite a few who use it. Much like midi, soundfonts have been around a long time and have been adapted for use in different ways.

I haven't been in soundfont land, so I guess I was missing out on some of it.It's actually a great way to get into sampling without Kontakt.

I look at it this way- Comparing soundfonts to Kontakt is much like comparing Linux to Windows 10. The people who like to use Linux tend to be the one's who like programming computers.Soundfonts is another area where similar fun can be had. Though Kontakt will probably go way deeper than you need or want to go as a user.

Some of the smaller sample library companies offer both a Kontakt and a soundfonts version.

FWIW there are free players to experiment with. Studio One has a synth called " Presence" that loads soundfonts.

Here are a few others that are free if you fancy getting into this kind of thing.

http://www.tx16wx.com/

Plogue sforzando

Free player/free files online. Looks like a reasonably priced hobby.I can't attest to the quality of the libraries though. I'm sure there are some nice ones.

October 13, 2017, 12:01 PM · I want to mention that the open source of sound font technology can be both a boon and a bane.

On the plus side, I have used it to insert both synthesized and sampled sounds into music composition and playback programs. I have also extracted the "best" of various instruments and created new sound font libraries with my favorite sounds.

On the minus side, since just about anyone can create and edit a sound font, so there are a LOT of crappy ones out there. If you do not want to get into creating and editing your own sound font, then you will need to wade through a large, deep swamp of "free" fonts to find something useful.

All my violin string simulation research has enabled me to create a font that sounds like a wonderful oboe! At this point I've decided my time is better spent looking for a font based on sampling an actual instrument. But I have not encountered one I am happy with.


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