Updating Your Studio: Spring 2009

With the public beta release of 64-bit Kontakt 3.5, along with new releases imminent from the Vienna Symphonic Library, I think it’s safe, and probably prudent, for professional composers to begin considering how they’ll upgrade their studios.

The first wave of big news is from the Vienna Symphonic Library and their new dual platformVienna Ensemble Pro. To explain. The Vienna Ensemble is not a sample library. It’s a virtual mixing board. Originally, the Vienna Ensemble was just for the Vienna Instruments allowing you to tie farm systems with the Vienna Instruments to the main DAW via LAN cables.

The Vienna Ensemble PRO goes to the next step. It now allows you to use any VSTi you want with it, not just the Vienna Instruments. AND! Only the main DAW machine will need an audio card. In short, the Vienna Ensemble PRO not only replaces FX-Teleport, but also expands the concept with a virtual mixing board.

For PC owners, this is great news. But for Mac owners, it’s stupendous news as Mac owners were left out of the FX-Teleport revolution. With the release of the Vienna Ensemble PRO, really any day now from what I’m hearing, Mac owners will no longer have to shell out bucks to put audio cards and MIDI interfaces into farm systems. Composers who are Mac-based with multiple systems will only need a Gigabit router to connect multiple computers in the studio which you can buy at Target, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Amazon, and so on!

The cost from Vienna, depending on the exchange rate, is about $125US. AND! It also works on P4s. Then there’s the Gigabit router cost and about $30 in LAN cables.

According to the Vienna site, the Vienna Ensemble PRO works with your “favorite” VSTi. I would think it’s fair to infer “favorite” as being Kontakt in one flavor or another (chocolate mocha? berry mint?).

What this yields is a dual standard for audio and MIDI connections and a virtual mixing board.

This is a major system integration issue that’s now solved – if what we all read is true.

Native Instruments has announced the public beta release of Kontakt 3.5 64-bit. Note that downloading it overwrites any existing K3 installation.

The folks at VI-Control.net/forum have been doing a lot of beta testing. Follow the link and read the results of their findings. Overall, most encouraging, especially now that on the Mac, K3.5, in standalone mode, can read all the RAM available in your Mac system.

Yes, we’re now at a place where depending on the software you’re using, you can pretty much do most of what you want on one machine, possibly two, assuredly, three. If you’re buying a new DAW, you want an 8-core system, with 6-8GB of RAM or more. My opinion is that right now, for today, this moment, the Mac Pro Nehalem has the edge for now. My opinion is based on what I’m seeing as ease of system integration, not which platform has the fastest RAM chip.

If you’re planning to get a new system, this is what I’m seeing for mid-April 2009. Conditions subject to change without notice.


  • Charles Chalfant
    May 14, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    Always appreciate your thoughts what you bring to the industry.

    The news from Vienna is huge, I wonder how much happier we can be!
    I’m sure we could find a way.

    I think Kontakt moving to 64 bit though is realy huge.
    Since the death of Giga (I still miss it although I’m dying to see what Gary does with it) Kontakt is THE standard for us PC users.

    We now have EWQL Play, Vienna and Kontakt in 64. What a wonderful world we live in and it’s only going to get better.

  • May 14, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

    Thanks, Charles. For Giga for today, check out http://www.soundlib.com which is developing a Giga reader. It shows real promise.

    Otherwise for Giga, excluding Giga 3 libraries, it looks like Kontakt for now is the program for Giga imports. However, no import is perfect. There’s also a Giga import on Logic’s EXS24, but it’s still hit or miss depending on the library.

    Kontakt going 64bit is huge especially with the new LASS library releasing shortly (www.lascoringstrings.com). As I understand it, on the Mac (for now) K3.5 in standalone mode reads all the RAM available on your system. Check out the screen shot on my blog: http://www.professionalorchestration.com/2009/04/kontakt-35-solidifies-mac-pro-dominance-today/

    (if the URL doesn’t wrap properly, just copy it into your browser).

    So the opportunity to do it all on system is there, however!

    Even with all that RAM and hard drive capacity there’s still polyphony. And once you run out of polyphony, as they say in baseball, “You’re OUT!”

  • Robert Neufeld
    May 20, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

    Thank you Peter. Re. your #3…I’ve always dreamt of walking into the studio and everything being inside a single shiny black sphere which you mutter a spell over in order to start the day’s work. Or something like that. And today it’s pretty close – for the first time ever I have only one (32GB macpro) box, which simultaneously runs viennas, kontakts, logic, omnispheres, styluses, and umpteen other things without getting hot under the collar. It’s a nice, simple way to work. Kudos to the hardware makers – for the time being at least, they’re ahead of the software ball.

  • José Rivero
    May 20, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

    Hi Peter,

    I am one of your students from the Instant Composer and Brass Class.I´ve been reading your articles here and at Sonic control web page too(and also watched your webisodes about DAW´s)so I was wondering if I can ask questions regarding technology here.
    Thank you!!


  • Ramji Soma
    June 9, 2009 @ 9:14 am

    Symphobia rocks.. Unbelievable…

  • Richard Ufheil
    June 13, 2009 @ 10:23 am


    I wondered if you might have some thoughts on the demise of Gigastudio from Tascam. This is my main concern; I don’t mind that they will not support it or that they have sold it to Garritan but in that case why won’t they provide an unlock for their “convoluted registration key” to registered users. Yes they have a license backup but if your system crashes and you put in a new c drive the backup will not work. This happened to me recently and although they will still issue a new key at this time it is only a matter of time until they won’t. I’m not the only one out there who has a lot of money invested in sample libraries that are Giga based. Do you think there would be a way to petition them or legally force them to issue an unlock?



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