Hollywood Strings Arrives

In the Soundsonline Forum, EastWest has posted the manual for their new Hollywood Strings library, which is now shipping.

Hollywood Strings Manual

Starting reviews, which can be read on www.soundsonline.com forums are extremely positive. LASS owners who’ve just received Hollywood Strings see Hollywood Strings as a complementing tool.

See the NEW VIDEO.
However, since Hollywood Strings’ original announcement, some things have changed with the original spec.

1. The library is shipped on a 500GB storage drive with library size approximately 312GB
2. Hollywood Strings is 24-bit only. There is no longer a 16-bit option.
3. The Gold Edition has been discontinued.
4. Requires PLAY 2.0 which is now available for downloading.

In going through the manual, I noticed this aspect about the recommended system drives for Hollywood Strings which states:

Solid State Drives
There is no doubt solid state drives (SSDs) are a revolution for storing and streaming samples. While currently more expensive than traditional hard drives, the seek and retrieval times are almost instantaneous, which means you may be able to create even larger projects and/or to use lower latencies without needing workarounds to avoid disruption of the audio output. For the largest instruments in Hollywood Strings, SSDs may be your only option (light programs are provided for other users), and the number of mic positions that can be accessed simultaneously may also be dependent on solid state drives. Installing 2 or more smaller SSDs with a true hardware RAID 0 solution offers the best performance. For professional users, we recommend consulting computer system specialists to achieve the best performance.
Pages 13-14 of the manual.

This description creates a little confusion compared to what I’ve read on the various forums where one of the co-developers talked about using 7200RPM drives.

At this link, Doug Rogers, President of EastWest, talks about running two (2) 200GB OCZ SSD drives in a RAID 0 setup and the results they achieved.

At present you can get an OCZ Vertex Series 250GB SSD from Newegg, Walmart, Amazon, and Buy.com for around $750 each.

Here’s the definition of RAID 0 from Wikipedia for those not familiar with it:

RAID 0 (striped disks) distributes data across multiple disks in ways that gives improved speed at any given instant. If one disk fails, however, all of the data on the array will be lost, as there is neither parity nor mirroring. In this regard, RAID 0 is a misnomer because RAID 0 is non-redundant. A RAID 0 array requires a minimum of two drives. A RAID 0 configuration can be applied to a single drive provided that the RAID controller is hardware and not software (i.e. OS-based arrays) and allows for such configuration. This allows a single drive to be added to a controller already containing another RAID configuration when the user does not wish to add the additional drive to the existing array. In this case, the controller would be set up as RAID only (as opposed to SCSI in non-RAID configuration), which requires that each individual drive be a part of some sort of RAID array.

So with RAID 0 you’re creating one giant hard drive to work from. And according to the manual you should have more than 8GB of RAM.

According to one post, loading nine (9) patches) took up 8.5GB RAM. So at minimum, I’d suggest at least 12GB RAM in your system.

One point of clarification needed is whether or not the manual is suggesting that the entire library be installed on an SSD RAID 0 Drive as opposed to dividing up the library across several drives?

As we’ve asked before, can the library be put on multiple 7200RPM drives?

It would make it much easier to plan a budget for a system with these points clarified.

What is clear is that you need an i7 Quad 920 2.66GHz as the minimum CPU. Here’s a gaming chart comparing the three i7 models with an 8-core on the PC.

Whether PLAY 2.0 works with the Vienna Ensemble seems to be a matter of luck as one user on the Soundsonline forum reported they got Hollywood Strings with PLAY 2.0 running with it, but didn’t report the VE build number. This means that on a farm system, you’ll also need an audio card and MIDIoverLAN.

Also, an iLok key is required for copy protection.

What’s needed now is for EastWest to answer these few questions about 7200RPM drives with Hollywood Strings spread across multiple drives vs. putting the entire library on a RAID 0 drive with 200GB SSDs or better.

From what I’ve read so far, users are having good experiences running Hollywood Strings on Mac Pros and on PCs with i7 CPUs and 7200RPM drives. So far, excluding clarification about the SSDs, Hollywood Strings today can’t be considered a “bleeding edge” library. Those on the Mac Pro with an 8-core are ready. Those on PCs with i7s or better, are ready. Just make sure you have plenty of RAM.

Hard Drive Discussion at V I Control Forum:


  • May 19, 2010 @ 10:15 am

    My impression of the Hollwood Strings library is that it is a beautifully recorded and presented bit of technology. Adapting it systems currently in operation does not appear to be feasible without a major equipment purchase. That being the case, I can wait until I get around to upgrating my computers and hard drives. perhaps the Play software will be more reliable by then.

  • May 19, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    @Steve – I have not personally used PLAY 2.0 because I don’t have a system that can run it. I can report from what I’ve read on various forums that the comments about it are good. This is not an endorsement, just reporting what I’m observing.


  • Chris
    May 19, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    Peter-I am hopeful somehow you can audition and play with the library first hand and report what you find. I know EW likes to talk up how much better their stuff is than the other guys, but it has to be super duper incredibly awesome jaw dropping good for me to pony up the kind of money you need to invest in a separate system to run this thing worth a lick. (Which BTW- I think is a real misstep on the part of EW, since there are a number of excellent sounding libraries which run very efficiently and cover 95% of most peoples needs). So please let us know if it’s super duper awesome when you get the chance! And by the way-there is only way for Play to go and that is UP considering how poorly programmed Play 1 was. (Reason number 2 why it better be super duper awesome.)

  • Jonas
    May 21, 2010 @ 6:35 am

    They should release a “Bronze” version of the library with just the close mics and sell it for half the cost. I use Altiverb and MIR and will continue to do so, so the multi-mic samples just a waste of HD space.

  • Bill
    May 24, 2010 @ 7:44 am

    For me, this library has failed miserably because it just doesn’t work for me technically. The PLAY engine is a joke, and even though I can afford it, I don’t want to power up another entire powermac system just for this library when the other libraries are totally comperable, if not better. (do you know how much electric one powermac system uses in a month??)

    I’m am hoping that one day, PLAY will actually work on a normal computer, and maybe the load-time of the instruments in this particular library will somehow become managable in a real working environment… (i.e. for someone working with deadlines, not just on demos..)

  • joe rice
    May 24, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    Anyone have any success regarding running H/Strings on just a Muse Receptor tied into a single host computer?

  • May 24, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    @Joe Rice – Per an older conversation I had with Muse, PLAY is not operating on Muse right now.

  • Chris
    May 24, 2010 @ 9:35 am

    To further Bill’s comments…it is such a shame that EW has hinged their whole platform on this horrible piece of software called Play. I have tried to integrate this hunk of junk into two separate (powerful) systems and it’s just the most cumbersome, CPU eating, won’t play nice with others, piece of crap. There are some wonderful samples buried deep in the bowels of this beast but it is nearly unusable for any kind of practical professional environment. Thankfully, there are a lot of great libraries out nowadays so why would one spend the kind of money that this one requires when all of the rest of them work just as well with much much much less headache.

  • John Howarth IV
    May 24, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

    VE pro seems to have mixed results, some people say it works with PLAY and for some it doesn’t. I have not done extensive testing with PLAY 2.0, but I have had a very stable setup using the earlier versions of PLAY in conjunction with audioport universal and ipmidi. I use jbridge to get around the 32 bit limitations of audioport. This is with an i7-920 slave with 12GB of RAM, and a cheap gigabit router. The catch is your slave needs to be a PC.

    And as far as I’m concerned SSD’s are the future and a complete no-brainer for any sample library that supports streaming from disk. I don’t have Hollywood strings, but I’m guessing that it is organized by folders of specific instrument types like the other EW libraries, which means it should be easy to spread across several hard drives if need be. Putting an alias(shortcut) with the same name as the folder in the place of the folder does the trick, or when loading samples from the browser window of PLAY you can select samples from various drives.

  • Robert Casady
    May 24, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

    Good comments, Bill, and really worth noting. (And you aren’t kidding about the power requirements of a single Mac Pro, as I’m just now finding out!) PLAY 2.0 really does need more work, and I don’t have high hopes for Play Pro. Wish you could still get those libraries for Kontakt.

  • Chris
    June 1, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

    I will echo the comments of the users above about Play (a truly ironic name for software that won’t). Why EW has chosen to go proprietary I can’t figure out. I found this article while taking a break from dealing with yet more Play problems… In addition to issues such as CPU mentioned above: Patches won’t load, template sounds will randomly be missing, saved multis won’t load, license key cannot be found (again, randomly), not to mention the lack of true 64 bit support for Mac (impressive considering they billed the software at the time as the world’s first 64 bit sampler). My rig needs more restarts than Paula Abdul’s career. The thing is, I’ve had it for months, been the tech support route.

    Most software you only have to integrate when it’s new, and that’s it. Play keeps visiting like bad in laws… And their decision not to integrate with VE – icing on the cake. I prefer their perc sounds to Vienna, but not enough to deal with dreck.

    Avoid Play.

  • June 2, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    First it would be useful if you described your rig and your OS to put your comments into a perspective for the other readers. Second, the iLok key is still 4-bi32-bit and that’s holding up PLAY from being native 64-bit. It will access as much RAM as you have in your system when running in stand alone.

  • Chris
    June 2, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

    Mac Pro 8-core 2.8 GHz, 12 gb ram, 2 Quad PC’s with total of additional 16gb ram
    512 buffer
    OSX 10.5.8
    MOTU 424 card – 3 2408’s

    Going iLok was a decision they made, they are culpable for problems related to it. I haven’t had a problem with my other licenses. That 64bit problem will go away soon, hopefully. But there is a long list of others. Adding to them is the new 2.09 update, which is much less efficient on the CPU than v1.3.5. I am only trying to run about 3 gigs worth of their samples…

    Stand alone mode only (for more ram) is not useful, unless you feel like gambling your livelihood on free software like soundflower/jackpilot. In my experience, it doesn’t matter if it’s being run on a PC farm, or on my host computer. I refuse to buy a dedicated computer and sound card for EW when I have 16 cores already running in my studio.

    I will say EW support is very helpful and friendly, but there is only so much they can do when the product is bad. I would gladly take average support from a great piece of software any day. In fact I do, VE and Kontakt.

    I think their sounds are great, but their foray into sampling is a disaster. Every working composer I know that uses their stuff still runs the old Kontakt files. They have a big chunk of the aspiring pro market, and it seems likely to stay that way.

  • June 4, 2010 @ 6:19 am


    I’m one of the producers of Hollywood Strings.

    I’m sorry to say there is a concerted effort by a competitor and his supporters to discredit the best production I have been involved in, and it reminds me of when we released our Symphonic Orchestra, which became the most commercially successful virtual orchestral library in the market.

    The PLAY 2 software has also been well received by our user community also, check out the soundsonline-forums.com where our users reside.

    We’re even getting slammed for using iLok here, even though there are literally hundreds of thousands of iLok users around the world from many companies in our industry including Digidesign!

    I know from our sales, these negative campaigns by our competitors (one in particular) and their supporters don’t impact the majority of our users; that is why we are the most successful virtual instrument developer in the world, and have a who’s who list of users that rely on our products every day to do their work; some of which rotate at the top of our web sites and produce a lot of the film and television soundtracks you listen to every day, including Danny Elfman (Spiderman, Nightmare Before Christmas, Terminator 4), James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight, King Kong), John Powell (Hancock, The Bourne Trilogy), Brian Tyler (Fast and the Furious, Dragonball), Chris Beck (Pink Panther 2, Under the Tuscan Sun), David Newman (The Spirit, Cat In The Hat, Ice Age), Steve Jablonsky (Desperate Housewives, Transformers) and countless others.

    Hollywood Strings was engineered by ACADEMY AWARD, C.A.S. (Cinema Audio Society), BAFTA, and EMMY award-winning sound engineer SHAWN MURPHY, who has recorded and mixed the scores for more than 300 feature films including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: A Musical Journey, Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park The Lost World, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Titanic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Bourne Ultimatum, Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, The Passion Of The Christ, X-Men: The Last Stand, Memoirs of a Geisha and Ice Age.

    Our production team has produced the most successful sample libraries and virtual instruments over the last 22 years (including most major technical developments) and we’ve received over 60 international awards for our work including Keyboard Magazine “Key Buy Award, EQ Magazine “Exceptional Quality Award”, Computer Music Magazine “Performance Award”, G.A.N.G. [Game Audio Network Guild] “Best Sound Library Award”, Electronic Musician “Editor’s Choice Award”, and “M.I.P.A Award” judged by 100 international music magazines.

    To remove any doubts about performance and system compatibility, we are releasing trial versions next week, so those interested in Hollywood Strings can try it out on their system, that is how confident we are in our product. We were a little cautious with the specs initially, but we’ve adjusted them down based on user feedback.

    Here are a few comments from actual users (since none here claim to have Hollywood Strings, including the author) –

    “Hollywood Strings is the highest quality string library I could have ever wished for. The expressiveness and flexibility are second to none and will continue to give me the most amazing resource for all my projects for years and years to come. After all these years I now feel like I finally have my very own personal orchestra”. Scott Rockenfield–Grammy Award Nominated Film Composer, and founding member/drummer/keyboardist/composer for the Multi-Platinum rock band Queensryche

    “I just bought HS and am barely scratching the surface; the sheer beauty of them already is producing lines that are leaps and bounds beyond anything I’ve been able to pull off previously, short of a very good live performance. I have a lot of libraries, like many here. HS is magic.” – John Graham

    “The sustain keyswitches are the first string sus patches I’ve used that you can play chords on and it sounds like an orchestra. They are truly gorgeous sounding, especially when you start using expression, and in this respect have the edge over VSL and LASS (I have both).” – Jules Bromley

    “I do not say this much, but I am stunned by this product” – Haidendvim

    “Sorry to the other string libs but Hollywood Strings beats the living snot out of everything except real players. It’s THAT good. This is a game changer. Big time. Hollywood Strings is a spectacular library!” – David Coscina

    “I feel the the value of this library should be more like $8,000! What can I say, a masterpiece!” – Sherief Abraham

    “Hollywood Strings is amazing, the best I’ve ever heard.” – Richard Birdsall

    Thanks for listening.

    Doug Rogers (co-Producer)

  • Frank
    June 4, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

    I have been following this, and I have to say I cannot believe that a professional composer makes a statement where he wants to use a more than outdated Powermac for such a ground-breaking product, it sounds ridiculous to me. Hollywood Strings requires an Intel Mac, the kind Apple has only been making for more than 5 years, and therefore he couldn’t have used it on a Powermac.

    I can tell from my own experience, Hollywood Strings is actually easier on my system than some other products that I own, and the new software PLAY 2 that comes with it is a major achievement. I checked many forum posts before I purchased. I usually ignore those that are really negative and also those that are overly positive, as I’ve found the truth to be somewhere in the middle. So far I have not experienced any kind of issue with Hollywood Strings, it’s running flawlessly on my system, and I’m not using SSD drives, I’m using the same 7200rpm drives I’ve used for a couple of years. I have to say the producers created a true masterpiece and that deserves my deepest respect!

    “Let’s all make more music for the sake of love”

  • Chris
    June 4, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    “I’m sorry to say there is a concerted effort by a competitor and his supporters to discredit the best production I have been involved in”

    Wow. Doug – My name is Chris Westlake. I am a current user. Look me up in your database if you’d like. I own a half doze or so EW libraries. I am not affiliated with any company. I am an independent/freelance composer. Your attempt to discredit my experience with your software as a conspiracy is astounding to me.

    You are confusing the issue: Hollywood Strings sounds fantastic, Play has many many problems that are not getting better. It is one thing to say that many people are not having problems and are happy. It is something else to insinuate my comments are not genuine and instead the result of espionage. I am only being honest based on my experience. I was a huge supporter and very enthusiastic user until my difficulties with your proprietary sampler. Your sounds will always sound great, of that I’m sure.

    I have spent thousands of dollars on your products. And when you encounter my opinion, what do you do? You think it is a conspiracy. That doesn’t fill me with confidence about your ability to manage the development of something as huge of an undertaking as Play. I would be careful dismissing your user’s opinions as fiction.


    In general, I agree with you. Keep in mind I have a current 8 core and am still having problems with very modest levels of samples from the old orch library. I wish I could use the new library. You always have to weigh the positives and negatives. Play has personally failed me and caused problems to a point where it doesn’t make sense for my business to rely upon it as the centerpiece of my template.


    Chris Westlake

  • June 5, 2010 @ 7:10 am



    I absolutely disagree, we have over 20 Macs ourselves, HS runs flawlessly on all these systems using the PLAY 2 engine, we had over 100 beta testers from our forum test this before we released it, we have thousands of HS users, many on Macs – there are mostly glowing reports from them at our forum, if you are having problems something is causing it, and if you are in L.A. I can send somebody to take a look at your system, and you are welcome to come to EW to see the collection working flawlessly on our systems.

    Take me up on the offer, we only want satisfied customers.


    – DR

  • David Coscina
    June 5, 2010 @ 8:40 am

    I dunno guys, I’m a little confused. I have a very modest set-up- Mac Pro 2.66ghz with 8 gb of RAM and I’m on Snow Leopard 10.6.3 and using the most recent version of PLAY and I have no issues. No crashes, no studdering, and I have done pieces combining Hollywood Strings with Goliath, EWQLSO, Fab Four. Maybe I just don’t push my machine as hard as you guys but I have never had issues with this interface. While I also admire VSL’s VEPRO, I have had some crashes with it, some Syncrosoft reading problems etc.

    I own pretty much every orchestral plug-in including that “other” string library which is quite good. In my humble opinion, the tone and richness found in Hollywood Strings has not been matched, especially in the long bowed articulations. That’s my experience. Seeing that I’m quoted above in Doug’s post as an advocate, I’m assuming some of you will take my post with a grain of salt but for what it’s worth, I have had no issues- and I don’t work for any company either- just myself. Cheers.

  • June 5, 2010 @ 9:27 am


    Please observe that one of the major objectives of this column, Music Technology & You, is to publish working system specifications from other composers and manufacturers so that Film Music Magazine readers are informed, how to approach planning system upgrades, and new system purchases.

    In line with this publishing goal, ALL comments posted here must include:

    1. System Specs (including CPU, Mac or PC)
    2. # of hard drives within the system and hard drive speed
    3. Whether the system is a stand alone farm system or a sequencing system.
    4. If a stand alone system, please explain how you are setup and connecting to the sequencing system.
    5. If a sequencing system, please cite your sequencing program and how you’re setting up multitimbrally, especially if you’re a Logic user.

  • David Coscina
    June 5, 2010 @ 10:07 am

    Sorry about that Peter. Here are my specs.

    MAc Pro 2.66ghz w. 8 gb RAM
    6 HDs- 4 7200 SATAII internal, 2 FW400 7200rmp
    Sequencing system-
    DAWS: Primarily Studio One Pro and Logic 9 (64 bit)
    Use PLAY in multitimbral mode- I don’t load one program per instance.

    Like I said, I don’t lay down a gazzilion tracks (I have a more streamlined compositional approach I guess) but I haven’t had any issues with HS or PLAY since the last update and even before that. With the latest update, I really noticed a HUGE improvement in load times for Hollywood Strings.

  • June 5, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    Here’s some important info about Hollywood Strings (and since we know most users don’t read the manual, which is big mistake with this collection) –


    There are also video tutorials here –


    If you are having PLAY issues, this document should help you troubleshoot –



    – DR

  • Chris
    June 5, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    Thanks Doug,

    I will take you up on your offer. Will call on Monday. I understand it must be frustrating to deal with people who don’t read the manual, or can’t be bothered to look up the FAQ, please understand I am not one of them.

    As for the “negative campaign from our competitors” comment, still not sure where that’s coming from. Some of us Play(a) haters just want to be able to rely on it. Will be happy to post again if it gets resolved.


  • Stefan Podell
    June 16, 2010 @ 10:53 am

    @Bill: I heard from Doug that the root of the problem you had with Hollywood Strings is that you were trying to run it on a G5 Mac, which isn’t a supported platform. PLAY 2 (and therefore Hollywood Strings) on Mac requires an Intel CPU.

    When you get a system that supports Hollywood Strings, I’m sure you’ll have quite a different experience than what has gone before, and I’m hoping that you’ll post back here with how that turns out.

    Best regards,

  • July 5, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    Well I go with Doug on this one.

    Hollywood strings is in a league of its own. It is a truly professional library in every sense, both in terms of the results that can be achieved and the amount of kit, and the time and expertise required to master it. It is not like other libraries. It does things radically differently and you need to watch the tutorials.

    I have run it successfully from a single 7200 drive/ Core Duo PC / XP, by choosing my patches carefully. It will work fine as long as you accept the limitations of your technology. Most of the time, we run it in an i7 PC slave with 16Gbs RAM,Vista 64 and two SSDs.

    Sure its an expensive setup but this is a professional tool for professional writers and the whole setup costs less than one live session in Europe so, for me, its worth every penny. Actually, the library and computer together costs less than my first sample the Ensoniq Mirage……and that was rubbish!

    Well done Thomas, Doug and Nick for a ground breaking library.

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