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New Music software with LSO samples!


jsawruk
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For those of you who haven't heard yet, there is some new music software that contains extremely high quality orchestral samples recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The software is called Notion. It is music notation software, and is great for composers and orchestrators. http://www.notionmusic.com

The program contains approx. 4 GB of samples from the LSO; roughly 8500 files.

All the LSO samples were recorded at Abbey Road studios. You can control the reverb of the samples to create very realistic results quite easily.

The software is easy to learn and easy to use.

If you are a composer and currently using Finale, Sibelius, and/or Garritan Personal Orchestra, then you should get Notion because it far exceeds playback of any of those. The playback is SO good, that I would personally use the samples in my own film scores.

I put about 5 measures of the Star Wars main title into Notion straight out of the box; not even adjusting reverb or adding articulations beyond what was in the music. Same orchestra, same recording studio, and the results were simply amazing. Were they perfect? No, but they were damn good.

Notion also has other features such as NTempo, which allows you to control the playback tempo in realtime, making it ideal for certain live performance situations such as solo recitals and musical theatre.

The software is $599 for full version, and $299 (I think) for the academic price. You cannot beat the price for these samples. They are at least 10 times better than GPO.

I hope that you do check it out because you will be amazed. I think this software will make you a better composer.

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I don't think the samples are that great sounding at all. Marginally better than a Soundblaster! IMO. I'll stick with Finale 2006 or Overture 4 both of which can import VSTi's like VSL and such.

HOWEVER, if someone were just starting off, yes, this software looks to be very promising.

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Can you attach some of your demos BTW? I'd like to hear your Star Wars stuff. i know that what some developers pass off as "demos" doesn't really show off the sounds as eloquently as some others could do.

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Go to http://www.notionmusic.com/downloads.cfm for the official demos.

The official demos are way better than my Star Wars thing, because I only did that for my own enjoyment.

If you don't think the samples are that good, then please explain to me why you feel that way. I really want to understand because that has not been anyone else's response ever, anywhere. It is extremely strange. I do not want to get into an argument like "this is better" etc., but I do want to understand why you feel that way. And if you continue to feel that way, that's your perogative, but I haven't met anyone else who shares your sentiment. The worst critique I ever heard anyone say of the Notion samples was my own when I first heard them "These sound about the same as GPO". Thankfully there has been much improvement since then, and now I can say that they sound way better than GPO.

A SoundBlaster without Wavetable use Yamaha OPL3 FM synthesis (not much better than DX7!), while Soundblasters with Wavetable use soundfonts loaded into wavetable memory, which then depends on the actual soundfont. There are some pretty good soundfonts out there, but even still, none are as detailed as most sample sets.

When did you hear the demo? We did improve the sound quality a lot in the past months.

Having used multiple sample libraries, I can say that, as a user, I find Notion's set to be of a better sound quality than Garritan Personal Orchestra AND that they are far easier to use.

Also, be careful what you say about Finale 2006. Yes, you can have VSTi in Finale 2006, BUT only VSTi made with Native Instruments platforms, such as Kontakt and Kompakt. You COULD use VSL with the full version of Kontakt, but most of the VSL is still native to Gigastudio format (or EXS), so it would require a conversion.

Also, the GPO that comes with Finale 2006 is not the full version of the GPO. It would be better just to buy the full version of the GPO, and better yet to buy Notion!

I cannot speak for Overture. I don't know anything about it, but I do believe it supports VSTi.

The idea of Notion is ease of use: that you can get a good sound quickly. Yes, you can get better sounds with VSL, but VSL is very intricate and can take a very long time to get working properly. I often spent DAYS perfecting my VSL tracks, when I could have gotten very close with no effort if I had Notion.

Caveat: I have used Rhapsody, Encore, Finale, Sibelius, and Notion. I have also used GPO and significant portions of the VSL. I work for Notion as a developer. I helped develop some Sibelius functionality in the past, but that was very limited; one or two functions. I use Notion and Sibelius daily, and Finale every other day at work. At home I still use Sibelius with GPO because I am broke! The opinions here are my own and do NOT reflect those of VirtuosoWorks, makers of Notion. I am trying to present facts, whereas ANY marketing presents spin. Please try to understand that I am telling you what I have experienced as a user. Is Notion right for everything? No. Sibelius? No. Finale? No. Anything? No! Each has a different task, summed up as:

Finale - copying / score-prep

Sibelius - K-12 education

Notion - composing/orchestrating, live performance

I personally feel that Notion's use for orchestrating is its KEY feature and difference, but I don't feel that it is recognized enough.

I will buy Notion soon, and when I do, I will have it work in concert with Sibelius; combine them to create an ultra-efficient, mega-powerful notation program that combines the best of everything!

I find VSL great for final mixes, but for just sketching, you need more immediate results, which GPO and Notion both provide.

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I just listened to the demos - They sound pretty awful actually, Actually could've swore it was from a plain MIDI Sound-set at one point....

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Really? I will have to check on this. I am very surprised by your comments indeed, so now I am led to believe that something is wrong with the samples.

What sample set would you say is the closest but better to what you perceive? This will help me more accurately figure out the problem. If you say "It sounds worse than a DX7", then we have a serious problem. If you say "It sounds worse than GPO", then I know what the problem is and can easily fix it. If you say "It sounds worse than EWQL or VSL", then there isn't a problem because those libraries cost a lot more than Notion, so it is fair to assume that they should perform better. But VSL is still incredibily difficult to use while Notion is incredibly easy.

If I could, I'd sketch in Notion and do final mixes in VSL. Unfortunately, I don't own either 8O.

Also, does it sound worse than Finale's soundfont or Sibelius' Kontakt Gold?

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I just need to know these things because your responses are the only two negative response I have heard from anyone ever, so I need to understand what is going on. If the demos do sound that bad, then there maybe is a problem that can be resolved. Everyone else, however, has been extremely impressed with the sounds.

Also, the overwhelmingy majority of those who have been impressed are users of Finale, Sibelius, and GPO, so that isn't saying too much. If you use VSL every day, than I can understand your criticism. Also, if you conduct a live orchestra everyday, then your criticism is even more understandable, for NO computer will ever sound as good as the real thing.

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I must admit, I was stunned with the idea of the program. Coming from someone who absolutely abhors the whole huge electronic and computer phase composers are all in, I was really happy to learn there might be a way for me to make demos, or just have easy access to good sounds without having to know all about wav lengths and all of that technical stuff...I just want to compose dammit!!! ROTFLMAO

But, when I heard the demos I decided not to go for the program. I can't even quite explain what it is about them that I disliked so much...it just almost sounds decent...but not quite. It's like it almost made the compositions sound chintzy just because of the sounds used. Because I know Rite of Spring is good...it just...didn't sound good with the samples.

Still...the program itself, on paper, sounds amazing. And I'm sure its operation is great...but the sounds man...the sounds.

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The samples are fine! The playback engine just needs to build in more subtle performance variation. For instance, in a real score, you might have five C3 notes in a row marked sfz, but the playback timbre and wave form has to be slightly different, or it sounds a little mechanical. This could be easily built in to the program in future releases. In GPO, you can slightly randomize the timbre and pitch of each instrument. It could also be done by "round robin" between samples (such as 2 or 3 sfz samples of the same pitch)

I will probably buy this (since is affordable and well recorded) and then do the programming myself in Kontakt, using Overture as my sequencing/notation engine.

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The samples are fine! The playback engine just needs to build in more subtle performance variation. For instance, in a real score, you might have five C3 notes in a row marked sfz, but the playback timbre and wave form has to be slightly different, or it sounds a little mechanical. This could be easily built in to the program in future releases. In GPO, you can slightly randomize the timbre and pitch of each instrument. It could also be done by "round robin" between samples (such as 2 or 3 sfz samples of the same pitch)

I will probably buy this (since is affordable and well recorded) and then do the programming myself in Kontakt, using Overture as my sequencing/notation engine.

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jsawruk, I didn't mean to rain on your parade. Believe me, when I first heard about NOTION, I was totally hyped. I never go into any new software or sound library expecting it to be of sub-standard quality. And I don't NOTION is awful. But to my ears, after listening to all of the demos, I found the sounds lacking in timbral realism. Now I am used to using VSL and EWQLSO sounds- I also don't think much of GPO. So I'm coming from a very different place than most people who might gravitate to this program. Of course I will happily download the demo when it's available and see for myself how things work. BTW- will the London Symphony sounds be included with the demo? I think it would help if the user could see what he/she could do with the sounds.

I've heard demos from all libs that didn't really do them justice so I'd like to try my hand at these sounds to see how they respond. But I DO agree that an integrated sound library is the way to go when composing things fast and efficiently. My biggest beef with most software notation programs is that they are so cumbersome, I turn off the computer and resort to my full score paper to get ideas down fast. I don't want to spend 3 minutes trying to copy and paste a violin line to a flute part for doubling purposes or whatever. And hearing the results from trills to tremolo etc. sounds like a cool thing to have. Most composer friends of mine honestly just use the resident soundcard samples when using Finale or Sibelius. This way, the sonic prettiness of the samples doesn't get in the way of the composing. That may sound weird but it isnt. It's one thing to have a GM version of a full score to hear a rough estimate of what the music will sound like. As you mention, putting music through libs like VSL or EWQLSO is a whole other artform unto itself- trying to capture the realism of a orchestra. Perhaps NOTION was never intended for that.

As for our negative reponse, I do believe NOTION received the same cynicism over at NOrthern Sound Source a while back. And it was more disappointment.

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I'm no expert at music software, but I thought these sounded damn good. Seriously, if I knew someone at school who could write me a score using Notion, I'd use the playback files in my movies. Yeah, it's not perfect, but I think it's a lot better than some things I have heard. For instance, my college did a class where the goal was to make a film and the score they got--from a professional composer--wasn't good at all. I'm not sure what he was using, but I can tell you that had he used Notion, it would've been better.

Really, though, I think electronics should be used sparingly. In a lot of B-movies today that use synth/elec scores, it's like they try to write a 'classical' score, hoping that when it's recorded, it'll sound the exact same. Doesn't work that way. What composers ought to do (or at least when they work for me) is write music that sounds good on synth/elec. Everytime I think about it, the best example that comes to mind is the end title cue from Blade Runner. As I was typing this, I was listening to the main title from Witness. That's a so-so example. It sounds all right on synth/elec, but it's got some problems.

The ideal program will be a combo of notation software and Soundtrack.

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I listened to the demos again. I'm sorry but the strings are flat and very synthy. Even GPO strings have a bit more depth and tone to them. And hearing the whole orchestra playing tutti really underlines the lack dynamics. I've heard enough real orchestras to know this don't sound real. And honestly, I second Jack Chapple's comment- this sounds like the sounds from a resident sound card.

the apple Jam Pack 4 Symphonic Orchestra sounds infinitely better.

but I'll keep my ears peeled. I think there's promise to this Notion product.

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I have been informed today that the demos have not been updated in MONTHS!

I am hoping that this will soon be correct (ie within the week).

As soon as they are, I will inform you and I do ask you to listen to them again.

I was apalled when I heard the samples from the website as well. They are nowhere near the quality of the samples that we actually have in the software!

Also, I can get employee pricing now. Competitive pricing (upgrade from Sib or Finale) is $299, but employee pricing is lower. Please email me if you seriously are considering this product. I might be able to get it for an insanely low price, or at least a reduced price.

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Samples indeed sounds worse than most of the newer commercial libraries. I am sure they had to do this on purpose somehow to get away with sampling the LSO at all and release them commercially:) I think the samples are stretched pretty far (maybe sampled each 3rd/4th) and they also sound kinda mono. Not interesting if you want to go for realism, but if you want a notation program with integrated sounds its probably fine:)

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Good points Simon.

RuleofThirds, any developer who says they are making a orchestra related product and claim they never set out for it to be realistic is lying. Of course the fellows at Notion are striving to make the playback realistic. Otherwise what's the point? Consumers (i.e. composers, arrangers etc) will stick with Finale and Sibelius otherwise. I like the principle behind Notion. Don't get me wrong. In fact, just before NOTION was released, I was saying how it would be great for a program to basically let the composer enter their score and hear it almost exactly like a real orchestra would perform it. Notion obviously is en route to making this a reality.

jsawruck, I am intrigued with NOTION and do have Finale (and Overture 3.1) so the competitive cross-grade is interesting. Will NOTION work on Mac or just PC?

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What I meant is that perfection in scoring with 100% realism has yet to be achieved and I think they knew that before they started marketing it. So why you're still disappointed with it is beyond me. When I listen to it, it's heads above all the rest. But maybe that's because I've heard some cruddy playbacks in my time. If the composer I'd hired to do the job came to me with a score written and recorded on Notion and I'd never heard it before, I'd be extremely pleased.

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Well then Mr. Rule...I sincerely wish there were more directors like you out there. 8O

But I must agree with Fiery. JSawruk...I see this being a great program down the line...as soon as they perfect their sounds and all...but for now...I'm going to pass on it.

Again...the concept is amazing...you should have seen my reaction when I first heard about it. Maybe down the road it will be an important purchase...but for now, I'll just stick to my Gigastudio and my frankenstein collection of sounds.

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I'm actually a little fearful of the day when composing software sounds just like the real thing. It just seems like you're losing something when you've got an orchestra full of Datas.

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Me too...me too. The problem is...and not to lump you into this category...but directors are really spoiled now. Coming from a composer. Back in the days of Jaws, Williams played the theme on the piano for Spielberg. Now, most directors expect to hear EXACTLY what they will in the film as soon as the composer is done writing it. So we, as film composers, must adapt.

But seriously...I'm right with ya. I yearn for the days where you don't know exactly what your music will sound like until you get it in front of an orchestra. That's why I write my symphonies by paper and pencil at a piano, and wait until it's read through to make a demo for publishing. It truly is the greatest feeling in the world...professional or amature, to hear your work from a live ensemble for the first time.

Even though, with my last piece, Time Dances for Wind Ensemble, the group couldn't read it through the first time...way too hard for them... 8O woops. Haha...they got it after practicing it for a week though.

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I have now bought Notion. Since I work for them, I got it at an insanely low price. You cannot get it for that price, BUT, all of you can get it for $199 (about 150 euro I think) through the friends and family program since you are all my friends :P. I might be able to get it even lower, but that is on a person by person basis and I cannot guarantee it. Please talk to me if you want to buy it.

Now that I have a copy at home I can make better demos than on their website. Any requests (ie Star Wars, etc.)?

If you use Finale: Notion 1.0 has far superior playback to Finale 2006. It is far easier to use, but not as powerful. Also, if you want to open your Finale files in Notion, you will soon be able to thanks to MusicXML support.

If you use Sibelius: Notion 1.0's playback makes Kontakt player Gold weep! At least the sounds in Finale 2006 sound kind of good, but the sounds in Sibelius 3.x are terrible! This from a devout Sibelius user. Hopefully they will get better sounds. Notion is as easy to use as Sibelius. Again, you can open Sibelius files in Notion via MusicXML, but it is not as good as going from Finale to Notion. Sibelius 4 has video support but bad samples; Notion has great samples, but no video. If you are like me and need both, you're best bet would be to buy Sibelius 4, and then buy Notion (but not without talking to me first! I will arrange a special deal in this case). Then you should be able to use Notion as a soft synth that receives MIDI data from Sibelius. I am going to try this out over the weekend in Sibelius 3. You will probably either need a loopback device or have them on two seperate computers because neither yet supports Rewire, although I am pleading with both that they do.

If you live in the following US states: GA, SC, NC, TN, VA, WV, MD, DE, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, or the District of Columbia, and would like to see a demo, please email me and I personally will be able to get a demo to you by driving to those locations. If you live anywhere else, I can try to arrange for a company to get a demo to you. One should be available soon.

The Mac version is under development and is slated to be released in early 2006. It should work fine under Mac OS x86 (Mac OS for Intel).

By the way, the best feature of Notion at all is that because it's samples are very good, you can hear orchestrations very well. This is great for teaching orchestration at the college level, but is also really great when the director comes on to the scoring stage and whats to make changes in orchestration. With Notion, it can be done quickly and you can get instant playback that sounds pretty good. You can play it back for the director right there and get his opinion without playing it on a piano, sequencing it, or paying for time lost in have the orchestra play/record it and the director still not liking it.

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They are sampled at no more than the minor 3rd, so far as I am aware. I still consider this acceptable for short time fourier transforms (which I believe is how they do pitch shifting, though they could be using linear predictave coding or some other technique like wavelets or AI). Beyond this point, however, I agree that is stretched too far.

They could have sampled it at every quarter tone, but then the library would be like 200 GB like Vienna. Currently, a much smaller program is more commercially viable for them at the moment, but they are always improving their sample library.

I am sending your comments about the playback on to the CEO of Notion. They are greatly appreciated, honestly. I didn't know the playback was that bad, and so I am going to make sure that it gets corrected, but that probably won't be until after NAMM (22-24 July).

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I have now bought Notion. Since I work for them, I got it at an insanely low price. You cannot get it for that price, BUT, all of you can get it for $199 (about 150 euro I think) through the friends and family program since you are all my friends :devil:. I might be able to get it even lower, but that is on a person by person basis and I cannot guarantee it. Please talk to me if you want to buy it.

Now that I have a copy at home I can make better demos than on their website. Any requests (ie Star Wars, etc.)?

How bout the Star Trek V end credits.

While $199 is better than $599..still alot of money. Is there a program like this for beginners or is that as cheap as this kind of program is going to get?

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