BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover

A few weeks ago I visited Spitfire Audio’s website and completed a survey that would allow me to download the Discover version of the BBC Symphony Orchestra sample library for free after two weeks. I finished downloading the library and got a chance to listen and play around with the samples. So far, I haven’t written anything with it, so this week, I’ll just be writing about my first impressions with the library.

The first thing that I noticed about the library is how small library size was. Compared to different sound libraries that can be up to hundreds of gigabytes this library was only a few hundred megabytes. However, this is just for the Discover version of the library. If you had purchased the Professional version of the orchestra it would be almost 600 gigabytes. The small file size is because they don’t give you as many different options for things like microphone positioning and articulations in the Discover version. Despite that, the samples that they do give you in the Discover version still really good in comparison to most of the samples in Logic.

Starting with the strings, I would say that the BBC Orchestra strings sound a lot more real compared to the studio strings in Logic. However, you still have to make an effort with how you write out notes in the MIDI for long notes, otherwise the notes won’t sound quite right in transition. Despite sound better, the BBC Orchestra doesn’t have as many different articulations as the ones in Logic.

Next are the woodwinds. In my opinion, the woodwinds are probably the weakest part of the library. Sometimes the tone between the notes for instruments like the flute can be inconsistent. Additionally, most of the instruments are in unisons of three, so if you wanted to play four different notes with the flutes you’d actually be hearing twelve flutes playing at once. I’d say you’d have to be careful not over orchestrating certain instruments in order to make them sound natural.

After the woodwinds are brass, and I think that for the most part they sound pretty good. I would say that they have a lot of resonance even without putting any reverb on them, but I don’t think that should be a really big problem. I like how bass trombone was included in the library because it allows for more flexibility which wasn’t available in Logic.

Last is the percussion section which I really appreciate because the percussion in Logic is not the best. With the BBC Orchestra there are so many different types of sounds that sound great. Additionally there’s tuned percussion like bells and xylophone which also sound really good. A harp is also included which is interesting as well as a celeste which was the instrument used for Hedwig’s theme in the Harry Potter movies.

Overall, the BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is an amazing sample library for being free. The downsides can easily be overlooked and you can’t really complain because what they give you already sounds great. If you wanted something better, you can consider upgrading to more expensive libraries on the Spitfire website like the full versions of the BBC Orchestra or their collaborations with composers like Hans Zimmer.

Valorant’s Full Release For June 2

Valorant has been one of the most popular online games for the past month despite it currently being in its closed beta phase. Initially the developers Riot Games had planned for the beta to continue for a few more months for a mid summer release, but just this week they announced that the game’s full release will be coming on June 2nd. The closed beta will end five days before the release on May 28th. A new map and agent were teased on release with a new gamemode soon after. This week, I’ll be writing about what I think of Riot’s decision on an early release for Valorant.

I’ve been playing Valorant for a few weeks during the closed beta so there’s a lot of different things I’ve seen in terms of bugs and broken game mechanics. Personally, I don’t really think that the game is ready for a full release yet. There are several things that make the game sometimes frustrating to play. The game is poorly optimized, the hitboxes are inaccurate in the latest patch, weapons have desync issues, and certain agents have exploitable boost abilities which allow for insane speed across the maps.

When lots of abilities are being thrown down and several players are shooting there’s a very good chance that your frame rates will start dropping. One character using all of their abilities can drop the amount of FPS you get by over 100. I’ve had times when my game has practically frozen in large gunfights only for my frames to come back after I’ve already died. Other people have also pointed out the issue to the developers, and while they’ve already optimized the maps, there are still some issues whenever the action starts.

Another one of the issues are the current hitboxes in the game. Sometimes you get visual recognition that you’ve headshot a player but you deal zero damage. Many people have videos where you can see sparks flying off of their opponents heads but the game registers them as body shots. It can be frustrating because there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it.

A third problem that came with one of the more recent weapon patch is when you spray your weapon and the bullets don’t go in the direction the weapon is pointing. Initially, looking at the barrel of your gun was one of the only ways to control recoil, but now it can be completely random no matter how hard you try. It can be so bad to the point where the bullets are going in the complete opposite direction of the barrel.

The last thing that I find terrible is how players have found ways to boost other characters across the map with different agents’ abilities. Depending on how they’re used, you can send players flying across the map right from the start of the game extremely quickly. When you see it happen it’s almost comical and clearly wasn’t an intended game mechanic.

Despite all of these annoying mechanics the game still feels somewhat solid. However, there are still some balancing issues with the agents that have been in closed beta since the start, and when Riot says that they plan on adding another agent on release it worries me about whether or not they will cause more unbalance within the game. Currently there are still some agents that many people consider underpowered and some overpowered.

Overall, I’m sure they’ll be able to fix some of the bugs that are currently in the closed beta, but at the same time Riot plans on adding even more content on the date of release. I just don’t think that the game is in a good state for full release especially in terms of agent balancing. If they try and tweak them within the five days between the end of beta and release, there won’t be any chance for player feedback. In the end though, we can only see how the game will turn out at the start of June.

Spitfire Audio LABS

Last week, my music teacher showed me a free sample library by Spitfire Audio called LABS. It includes lots of different types of sounds like strings, pianos, synthesizers, and percussion. After downloading them, I had a chance to play around with a few of them, so here are my thoughts on Spitfire Audio’s LABS.

The first sample I tried out was the Soft Piano. Like the name suggests, the sound of the piano is a lot softer compared to the ones in Logic. Apparently, they managed to get the sound by placing pieces of felt between the strings and the hammers. I think that it sounds really good even without using any EQ changes and the built-in reverb is amazing. The one thing I don’t really like about it is how the lower end starts getting a bit muddy. However, laying the Soft Piano with another type of piano can help make it sound fuller.

After the Soft Piano, I tried out the drums which weren’t as great as I had hoped. In my opinion, they just don’t sound that different than most of the kits already in Logic. I think that I’d have to EQ the instrument in order to find something that I’d like, especially for the toms.

I also took a look at the Frozen Strings and Scary Strings. These string samples have very unique sounds, and I feel like they’d only work in very specific themes. They don’t really sound anything like the normal or Studio Strings in Logic. The LABS also have normal strings which come with some new articulations that I didn’t already have. In a few weeks though, I should be getting the BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover library which I’ll probably also write about.

Other than those, I didn’t really look into too many other instruments, but the Choir, Opia, and London Atmos sounded pretty good from the demos. The LABS has so many different types of sounds that are available for free, and they definitely sound better than most of the sounds you’d find in something like GarageBand.

Overall, Spitfire Audio’s LABS has a lot of different and really cool sounding sample libraries that you can download for free on their website. Some of them have interesting stories behind them, and you can probably find a unique situation for each library to fit into in order to use them to their best potential.

Comparison Between CS: GO & Valorant

For the past few weeks, I’ve been playing a lot of Valorant with my friends and many people online have been comparing it to CS: GO ever since its development was announced. While playing I’ve noticed both similarities and differences between the two games, and this week I’ll be sharing them.

One difference between the two games is the weapon and combat mechanics. In CS: GO every gun has a set recoil pattern meaning that the bullets will always follow the same path as long as you are standing still. This means that if you practice the pattern for a specific gun, you should be able to get an accurate grouping of bullets. However, in Valorant, weapons will start with a simple pattern for the first few bullets until they begin randomly swaying left or right. This means that in Valorant, you can’t rely only on muscle memory when in an aim duel. Instead, you can look at the barrel of your gun when shooting to see how you should adjust depending on the direction it is in. In Valorant, it is also easy for moving players to hit accurate shots due to less moving inaccuracy.

The biggest difference between CS: GO and Valorant is that the latter allows players to choose unique characters with different abilities each game. This expands possible gameplay situations and in my opinion already makes the game drastically different from CS: GO. Different character’s abilities allow for creative opportunities much like the grenades in CS: GO.

Aside from the different characters and abilities, I find that much of the rest of the gameplay in Valorant is very similar to CS: GO. The objectives of both games are similar, having a 5v5 environment with one team defending sites while the other attempts to plant a timed object on those sites. Each player has money that they receive every round. The amount depends on what happened in the previous round and it can be spent to buy weapons.

Throughout Valorant’s similarities and differences with CS: GO, the only thing that I don’t particularly enjoy about the gameplay is the tag slowing when you get shot. Both games have tag slowing where your movement gets slowed whenever you get hit. The slowing in Valorant is way higher than in CS: GO and you’re pretty much stuck in place when you’re getting shot. This means that if you ever get hit by another player you pretty much have to commit to the engagement. From my understanding, the amount of slow is supposed to be part of the game, but it gets pretty frustrating having to sit down and spray my weapon for every fight.

Overall though, I can say that both games are similar but different at the same time. Both can be enjoyable in their own ways. I know that Valorant is the type of game that caters more towards casual players because its gameplay is more forgiving. For me, I’d probably bounce back and forth between the two games because it gets difficult to adjust to the different weapon mechanics for each game.

School Closure Continuation

Around a week ago the YRDSB announced that school closures would be extended to May 29th when they will reevaluate the COVID-19 situation. In the meantime, they’ve provided some updated information and online learning is continuing. Here are somethings about the current school situation that I’d like to share this week.

The first thing is one of the statements that the board has on their “Novel Coronavirus FAQ” page regarding school marks. They say that “end of year marks can only remain the same or increase based on work completed from April 6 and onward. This means that no matter how badly you do on your future assignments your mark cannot go down. In my opinion, this seems like a very strange move to make by the school board because it doesn’t give students much motivation to continue on with their school work. I know some of my friends don’t really feel the need to do school work if they already have high marks. For me, I’ll still continue the work, but it feels like sometimes I’m just wasting my time doing the work.

A complaint I have about the lessons and work that I’ve been getting. I feel like the amount of work that’s being assigned from teachers is completely different from before. For some subjects, the amount of work being assigned each day is sometimes too much. It gets annoying sometimes when the teachers don’t make things easily accessible to see because sometimes I find out that there was something assigned that I didn’t even know about.

Another thing that I personally don’t really like is how communication is done. Whenever I email my teachers about a question I have, I always get really vague feedback or they just repeat whatever’s written on the lesson post. Sometimes I even see classmates ask questions on assignment posts where the teacher hasn’t even responded in days. I’ve also had to deal with tasks done in pairs where my assigned partner doesn’t respond to messages or emails. I messaged my teacher and only then did I get a response from my partner even though the task was overdue.

Overall, I’ve found this online learning to be a total circus. Every day it’s like the teachers are just trying to throw material at the students so that they get through the curriculum. I feel as if I’m not learning anything, and there’s zero motivation for me to continue working.