Review: Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestra & Choir Works

If you need music samples, you won't find any better than these (February 28th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: IK Multimedia

Price: €499/$599 US

The Good

  • Organized user interface. Seamless integration with ProTools. Strings had realistic crescendos and vibrato. Piano sounds are very realistic.

The Bad

  • The mallet percussion sample sets weren’t detailed enough. French horn sounds with vibrato was not realistic. Clarinet sound was not rich enough. Some scroll bars and buttons were tiny and cumbersome. There are still a couple of small bugs.

The Miroslav Philharmonik features a library of orchestral and choir samples that are used in films and music compositions. The virtual instrument runs on Mac OS X or Windows, using VST, DX, RTAS, or Audio Units. Users of IK Multimedia's SampleTank 2.1 can use Philharmonik samples. It features 16 stereo outputs and a variety of quality DSP effects including reverb, modulation, filter, distortion, EQ, compression, and limiting. There are 4 DSP effects per instrument. Since the samples are played directly from RAM, it is advisable to have at least 1 GB installed, although specifications require 512 MB RAM. Use of the product requires an iKey that has a pre-installed license on it. The iKey is a USB Key, also called a Dongle.

Some History

This amazing product, according to IK Multimedia, was "acoustically captured in the correct spatial placement of orchestral positioning," recorded at the Dvorák Symphony Hall in Prague by jazz musician, Miroslav Vitous and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. IK Multimedia's site contains a wealth of background information on every aspect of the auspicious project. It is well worth a look, even if you are not a musician.

It is impossible to review all of the available orchestral and choir sounds, as there are 1,300 of them and 7 GB of samples. A convenient search page on the site lets you choose your instrument and presents the Library name and size. If you'd like to hear snippets of some of the samples, they're available on the Miroslav Philharmonik site, which launched in July, 2005.

A Film Score Made

In the projects that put Miroslav Philharmonik to the test, the choral sounds were not reviewed. Much was found useable, but there were orchestral samples that didn't provide the type of sound needed for this project. Depending on the context, some sounds were easier to work with than others.

Lush string and horn pads were added to an electronic piece with ease. In looking for smooth, yet organic sounds to portray a lifelike sound backdrop for a film, the sounds themselves were compelling and the attacks and crescendos of the violins, violas, cellos, and basses were passionate. They had a range of flexible variations in articulations and vibrato, which made the samples adaptive. The string samples have the greatest musicality and the quality of each sub-library is excellent. Blends of different quartets brought a nice body to the timbre without heaviness.

The woodwind sounds were less consistent. The clarinet sounds were less organic, with a vibrato style that made the samples less flexible. This was also the case with the French horn sounds. However the bassoon and oboe sound timbres were not too buzzy, so they blended well. The piano sounds were also top notch with a dark timbre that worked well with varying velocities.

On a pop arrangement featuring rhythmically complex string and mallet percussion parts, more work was required to achieve a realistic sound. It was necessary to overdub a quartet of live strings to layer with the sampled ones. This highlighted the "human" qualities of the live performance and the massive, beautiful sound of the sampled orchestra. The mallet percussion sample sets weren't detailed enough to substitute for the real thing, but would most likely sound better in a simpler arrangement with the rest of the sampled orchestra.

Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestra Interface

Miroslav Philharmonik Orchestra Interface

The amazing quality of the unique recordings in the Miroslav Philharmonik sample library is of great use and allows you to use your compositions in a variety of projects. It also integrated with ease in ProTools. Use of a product like this also saves a musician a lot of time and money, because you don't need to hire an orchestra to test arrangements that you want performed live.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Marcus BH Sholar


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