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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Now available: EastWest Partners SSL to Bring FX Global Suite for Play 4

EastWest has just released Play 4, the newest sample player engine for all its sample library products.
EW QL Symphonic Orchestra running on Play 4. The original 'skin' layout has been preserved,
along with a new look on the interface
What's new in the upgrade includes an improved streaming engine, improved overall performance, efficiency, a brand new mixer page, background loading, and more advanced instrument properties.
The all new mixer page on Play 4
Best of all, Play 4 would be available to existing Play users free-of-charge! That IS good news.

More information from the original sounds-online forum post, posted by Doug Rogers himself :)

Along with Play 4, comes the very exciting collaboration of EastWest with SSL, the very famous manufacturers of hardware consoles that have been processing audio signals for countless chart topping hits for the past decades. Now the same precision and signature audio processing power is has been integrated in software form, at a fraction of the original cost of SSL's standalone audio software plug-ins.

On top of all this, EastWest has added 726 additional reverb presets that comes with the SSL/EW  FX Global Suite. It really is value for money, at the current price of US99/EU99. Once you have paid for the license to use the EW/SSL processing tools, it will be enabled for all the sample libraries that run on the Play 4 engine.

These sound sculpting / dynamics processing tools of the SSL/EW FX Global Suite for Play 4, are implemented as channel fx/signal strips in the form of 'fx drawers' that are pulled down on top of the mixer view. Effects settings are stored per-channel. For every effects settings that is set up, the user can save these as presets that can be called up across different instances and projects.
The SSL/EW Global-FX drawer, and the comprehensive interface,
all fitting snugly into a single page of interface. Effects setteings are stored per-channel.

I have just installed and fiddled around with the Play 4. At present I am most impressed by 2 main features: The mixer, and the background loading feature.

The Mixer. This adds quite a bit of flexibility to the audio workflow of the project. If you look at a single mixer strip in the any of the new mixer view images, you will not see no functions that are 'new', nothing that you could not do before. However, the mixer view consolidates the midi/audio routing, panning, levels, so you can see them in the context of a levels and panning, as a mixing engineer does.

Also, if you have any of the Platinum/Diamond editions of any of the products that use mic positions (such as the ew symphonic orchestra, ew pianos, and the ew hollywood library series), each if the mixer strips will allow you to expand that single strip that will now function like a group buss, and expand out into individual mic positions as sub-strips, so you can have further controls over mic positions levels and panning. I feel this feature is really unique, ties up very well with the features of each of EastWest's library, and plays into the strength of the Play engine (pun intended). Well done, guys!

Background loading. Play 4 now has the ability to load an instrument in the background. This is true even if you are replacing a current instrument channel. In the past when loading an instrument, the play engine freezes up and the loading process takes prevents the user from doing anything. Now you can continue playing and enjoy the existing instrument while the new instrument is loading. Only upon the completion of the load, will the existing instrument be removed, and the new instrument samples will sound. Again this is true even if you are replacing your only instrument channel in the Play instance.

The images below show the background loading status bar at the bottom of the interface while loading. The GUI is completely interactive and functional while the loading is taking place, and you can still play the previous instrument even while it loads.
Background instrument loading in the mixer view

Background loading in the player view
All in all, the direction that EastWest is heading is very promising. I can see the beginnings of the counterpart of Vienna Ensemble Pro that Vienna Symphonic Library has developed. All that EastWest needs to do is add more features like group busses, aux routings and the ability to load audio and instrument VSTs to their mixer capabilities, and they would be on par with VSL's Vienna Ensemble Pro (except for the ability to operate in a network host/slave situation like VE-Pro does).