This is the fourth part in a small series of blog posts I’ll make about the real-world differences between orchestral mockups (or synth orchestras) versus real orchestras. As a composer who is fortunate to work regularly with live orchestras, I’ll try to help show the difference from a decent demo recording, to a mixed and mastered finished recording. For this example, I’ve chosen an exciting track from my album “Resonance Theory” called “Speed”. The sixteen-strong cello & bass section hated me after this, and you’ll see why!
There’s not really much contest here. The difference is so big, the cello section sounds like a different instrument. It’s much richer, more widescreen, and punchier. The synth demos sound very clear, but very flat. The eight French Horns also hit a very exciting dynamic before the downbeat as well. When working with live orchestras it’s important to consider your players. I knew this was a very mechanical, driving line, and I knew that even with the best players it would become uncomfortable after several takes. So give them this piece early on in the session when they have plenty of energy – or after a break – and you’ll get a better performance.
Live orchestra 4 – synth orchestra 0.