In early July, Film Music Magazine’s Technology Editor Peter Alexander was given the opportunity to have a sneak preview of EastWest’s Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra Platinum in the new PLAY software instrument. Here are his first impressions.
Having heard it and played with it, I can tell you that the EWQLSO Platinum in the PLAY software instrument is an update that’s been worth the wait. While EastWest has done major feature updates, a few stood out to me that said, yes, make the investment to upgrade. Or, if you’re new, to buy it for the first time.
Within Alexander University’s Professional Orchestration online classes, we’ve found QLSO to be one of the easiest programs to work with when teaching orchestration and beginning MIDI mock up techniques. Since EastWest now has published academic pricing, qualified educators and students can purchase QLSO for non-commercial uses. Click the link above for details.
My First Introduction to QLSO
My first real introduction to EWQLSO came right after it was initially released. I went to the beautiful EastWest facilities in West Hollywood and took with me my recording engineer, Ben Maas of Fifth Circle Recording. The reason I took Ben is that before he became a full time recording engineer, Ben earned his Masters in Performance on clarinet from USC. As such, he has broad ensemble performance experience. Music history has shown that having live performance experience is a great help to writers. And this case, it’s been a great help to Ben because as a player, he knows what to listen for.
When we heard those very first demos at EastWest, what I learned from Ben about QLSO was this: write and adjust the volume levels.
There was no need to EQ QLSO. And since it was recorded with all the players in their seated positions, there was no need to pan.
This meant then, and moreso now, that with QLSO, the composer puts the majority of his time towards writing music, not screwing around with technology to get everything to work.
At the time QLSO was released, it was a $2995 purchase. When the XP update was released, that, too, was a $2995 purchase. So originally, the entire package was worth just under $6000US. Now, however, you get the complete QLSO Platinum for $1195. There are four packages. QLSO Platinum Standard, Plus, Gold and Silver. Click the link above for explanations of each of the four packages.
Note to Educators and Students: Our teaching experience with Alexander University online classes is that for use on a single computer, whether the student’s or in a lab, look at QLSO Gold. QLSO has been used in hundreds of movies, TV episodes, even for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. So students learning with QLSO learn on a program that can be used post-graduation for professional production. QLSO integrates with all the Mac and PC sequencing programs (Apple Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer and Sonar) and Pro Tools.
The Features That Motivate My Wanting to Uprgrade
I now have stacked up a number of scores to produce. So these next comments come from a working composer who also has all the major libraries.
Richer sound – QLSO Platinum was originally a 24-bit library. However, with the new PLAY audio engine, it struck me that the sound is much more brilliant than previous.
The ability to pan – Previously you could also pan instruments in QLSO. But with the newly designed PLAY software instruments, you have the option of panning with knobs in the Microphones section. You can adjust panning for the Close, Stage and Surround Mics. This now gives you two locations to work with panning, here, and above the volume fader.
Setting the microphone positions – This to me is a another great feature, and really worth the price to upgrade. Only two libraries besides QLSO have been recorded with the orchestra in their seated positions, the SONiVOX Symphonic Collection and the older Miroslav Vitous library, which has since been rereleased by IK Multimedia as the Miroslav Philharmonik. All the rest are recorded in the center stage position with a fixed microphone position. Other libraries promoting pre-panning have been programmed, not recorded, into those onstage positions.
Thus, to get libraries to match and blend has been a time consuming trial and success process, which frankly, is a huge time waster. No more. If you want to use these other libraries with QLSO, you can now adjust the mic position with QLSO to get the better fit, and in less time.
Fast mic position change – QLSO was recorded with three mic positions: close, stage and surround. Close approximates the orchestra from where a conductor would stand on. Stage is behind that, and surround is further back beyond that. [Note: at one time, EastWest had a graphic posted on Soundsonline.com illustrating the mic positions. I couldn’t find it on the site, so I hope at some time in the future they’ll repost it]. To switch between or add a mic position, you just click the appropriate button and in a few seconds, voila, change! When you change or add mic positions, PLAY automatically brings up the matching set of articulations. Very thoughtful programming. Note: Gold is stage position only.
Reverb selection – This to me is a great option. Using the original recordings, QLSO has been reprogrammed from the ground up. With it, as with all the PLAY libraries, are several dozen convolution reverbs including those recorded within the hall where QLSO was recorded.
You have three scripts to choose from that you can turn on or off: Portamento, Legato and Repetition. Portamento and Legato automatically put you into monophonic mode.
QLSO PLAY is a great update with an even bigger sound than before. More details once I get a review copy.