This guest opinion editorial was written by Peter Alexander, one of the founding columnists for Film Music Magazine who recently stepped down as Technology Editor.
Several years ago Chris Stone announced his concept for DVZ (pronounced divisi) strings which I thought then as now, brilliant. However, the implementation in my view then, as now, was that it was clunky. And I said so. It was also extremely expensive to implement at the time – nearly $20,000. And of course my comments, made on an independent forum, didn’t build undying loyalty for me from the folks at Audio Impressions (http://www.audioimpressions.com).
But recently I saw and heard online a revitalized DVZ at a very compelling price point – and because of that, I’m changing my tune.
The folks at Audio Impressions have wisely placed their 70 Strings in a Kontakt 4.1 player and bundled it with their impressive DVZ Core Engine and GUI that enables you to produce an entire string section:
1. On 1-2 tracks if you have super keyboard chops;
2. Just 5 MIDI tracks for the entire section as demonstrated by British composer Steven Barton;
3. Without the emotional angst that accompanies setting up a template.
Price point – $1,495.00 for the samples, Kontakt 4.1 player, DVZ Core Engine, and Space. Very competitive and very worthwhile to consider.
Because I challenged their original system implementation, I’ll start here. Very simply, you only need one computer for the strings: an i7 860, i7 920, or an i7 950 with a maximum of 8GB of RAM. For hard drives, in order of preference, 10000RPMs, 7200RPM SATA, SSDs, specific Gigabyte motherboard H55M-USB3 Now, what I appreciated about the tech spec was that it’s obvious they really did test their libraries extensively to find what worked best and they reported it. No guess work for the customers or system builders.
And they recently announced a new “super computer” approach (no, not a Cray) that takes advantage of very small SSDs.
You can implement it with an audio card (RME 9652 recommended) or by using their own option called AudioPort Universal.
Divisi is organized musically. In the real world, there are two players to a music stand (also called a desk). That’s how DVZ is built. You can build up to a 70-piece string section (Mahler sized) by two’s. The largest sized string orchestra is 18-16-14-12-10. Even Herbert Von Karajan would have liked that size.
All the bowings (articulations) are handled within the individual track. So rather than building a large string template of 90 tracks, you can literally reduce it to five (5). See it here.
Audio Impression’s technology allows you to create your own stage positions. So you can use the traditional symphonic seating of Violins 1, Violins 2, Violas, Cellos and Basses off to the right, or the European seating plan with Violins 1 to the left, Violins 2 on the right, and Violas/Cellos between them. If you don’t want the basses angled to the right, position them in the center.
Chris Stone has sampled over 600 instruments. While no release date has been given, there’s a massive woodwinds, brass, percussion, keyboards, guitar/bass and organ in the pipe line. And a jazz brass section. So this is by no means a “one-off” library.
One other place I challenged Ai corporately sometime back was on their tech support. This is no longer true. They have a very balanced tech support program by either e-mail or by phone for a very reasonable support fee. I’ve to their tech folks on line and they are great to work with.
It’s taken a lot of effort, but today, Audio Impressions is a company with a program and approach to orchestral scoring that’s well designed and well thought out, from implementation to tech support.
See Tech Support here.
I was very impressed with their starting demos. There are six of them covering a variety of styles from Batman Begins, to Mozart, to Bernard Herrmann. Remember, these are starting demos with more on the way.
There are two versions of each demo. The first is within a Vimeo player giving you a mini-overview with each work. Next to the video is a .wav file for downloading. Each of these demos is worth sitting through because seeing is understanding how DVZ works.
I don’t have a review copy of DVZ. What I’ve written about is what I’ve seen. But what I’ve seen tells me that despite the economy, innovation is still very much alive. Chris Stone’s approach to sequencing and scoring with 70 DVZ Strings is genuinely innovative and worth considering.
Well done Chris Stone and Team!
Peter Alexander is the author of the Professional Orchestration Series and How Ravel Orchestrated: Mother Goose Suite. His newest book is Professional Orchestration 2B: Orchestrating the Melody Within the Woodwinds and Brass Sections. He’s completing setting the Beattitudes to music. His blog is www.professionalorchestration.com.